Saturday, September 12, 2015

Vernet 1814: The Dress, part 1

The top of my Vernet dress is hidden by (I'll just go ahead and say it since you've probably already figured it out...) a spencer.  I've already said in a previous post that I was going to make the top of the gown simple and cover it with a chemisette.  With the chemisette made, the time came to actually make the top of the dress.  

My gown is described as a "Robe de Perkale."  Perkale cotton is a bit hard to find new, but if you are a sleuth on ebay, there are some good vintage sheet finds out there.  I decided to go with new Pimatex cotton instead.  It is a similar type of cotton, dense and with a slight sheen to it.  It's a nightmare to hand sew, by the way.  One painful stitch at a time, and you develop calloused fingers by the end.

So, it turns out that I decided a bit hastily that I wanted my gown to be a gathered drop front gown.  Haste makes waste they say, and they're right.

I say hasty, because I failed to notice a tiny detail on the fashion plate that was a HUGE clue to what style of gown was hidden under the spencer.  

When I reveal my fashion plate at the end, you will notice a small vertical slit down the center front of the gown, just under the spencer. (similar to what you see above)  This slit is the says that the gown had a center front opening.  So, back to the drawing board I went, seam ripper in hand, and I designed a new, more simple gown bodice.

It's terrifyingly simple...almost boring...but I'm ok with that, because there's enough gaudiness in other aspects of the outfit to make up for it.  I wanted the gown to be sleeveless for two reasons: 1. It's cooler to wear.  2. Less bulk under a tight fitting spener.  After-all, a bare arm would be enticingly scandalous to a Merveilleuse.

Now, back I go to the never ending story of hemming and trim making.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Vernet 1814: Trimmings

With school starting back up, I've barely had time to breath.  So, one way I've tried to keep on top of this Vernet project is to squeeze in the little things during lunch break, or while winding down and watching a show before bed.  I'm calling this the "hum-drums" of this sewing project.  With repetitive motion and mind numbing sameness, I'm trying not to fall asleep before it's all over, and I'll attempt to not put you to sleep with this post.

Hum-drum #1...roll hemming 1,040 inches (approximately 87 feet) of cotton for the gown trimmings.

Hum-drum #2...weaving 90 yards of Au Ver A Soie Co. silk chenille thread (from Hedgehog Handworks - Joady is a saint to work with, by the way.) *Chenille means caterpillar in French! Isn't that cute!*  

Why weaving, you say?  Well, instead of buying ready made fringe like any sane person would, I'm following in the footsteps of the French Frangiers, or "fringe makers," and making my own. 

 I actually love weaving, so it's not really too bad...not as bad as the roll hemming at least...there's just a lot of it to do.  

Create a narrow warp, and weave the weft to your desired length.  Then, back stitch up one vertical side between the outer two warp threads just to hold the chenille in place.

Cut lose the outer two (or three is what I did) warp threads on the side that you back stitched, and knot them tightly and close to each end of the weft threads.

Then release the remaining warp threads on both ends of the loom.

Set it down with the back stitched edge to the top (this picture is upside down unfortunately), and dab fray-check along the bottom edge of the chenille thread.  Let the fray-check dry.

Once dry, remove the untied warp threads (the ones you knotted at the top are still there.)

Then carefully cut open each loop of thread along the bottom where the fray-check is.

Straighten your fringe, and it's ready to be attached where ever you need it.