I looked at the calendar yesterday and realized – to my horror – that the DLM Tavern Night event is THIS WEEKEND. As in, 2 days from now. Ahhhhhh! So last night I pulled a marathon and got Pink Thing sewn together.
The bodice went together quickly since I invested a lot of time in fitting the pattern mockup:
Next pleat the skirt. I had to piece it together somewhat from the larger parts of its previous incarnation’s skirt. It proved to be an advantage in the front, as it conveniently left me two seams to use to make the drop front. The drop front allows you to put the gown on. The ties on the drop front are wrapped around back and tied in front, holding the apron front up. Then the bodice is fasted closed which hides the apron front:
The ties are tucked under the waistband, but I left them out in the photo to show how the whole thing works. The image on top shows how the apron front is attached to the rest of the skirt.
At this point I have to stop and thank one of my favorite vintage sewing tools, the Clinton Pleat Maker:
This awesome tool allows you to make lots of even pleats quickly – just stick it in the fabric, turn, and viola! Pleat! The legs are adjustable to allow you to set the pleat depth, and there is a measuring gauge so you can keep the space between the pleats consistent. They are usually available on Ebay. They have been out of production for a long time so look under vintage sewing tools. Every time someone blogs about them there is a run on the bank, so to speak, so be patient.
Given that the event is days away, I don’t have time to make a new fichu and sleeve ruffles. So I will wear a cotton net fichu I already have. For the sleeves I turned to my stash of cheap-ass but decent looking lace. I have not had good experiences using antique lace and fine fabrics for decorative elements than hang from sleeves. It gets caught on things and dragged through the guacamole in the buffet line. Some jobs are just better suited for cheap lace.
So here it is, ready to go – as much as it is going to be:
Too Small Dummy is wearing correct underpinnings to help the skirt stand out – a Georgian bum, a corded petticoat, and a silk over petticoat. In the 18th century there was a large market for fake rumps!
Since this year’s goal is to shrink the UFO (UnFinished Outfit) pile, I thought I needed to do something with the pink damask. I bought it on Ebay years ago and began to cut it out into a robe a la francaise. Problem #1: I was thin back then. I tried to alter it – not! It was so small it wouldn’t even fit across the back! Time to re-cut this into something else. There is not enough fabric for a robe and petticoat, as I discovered back then. Why not make a round gown! Round gowns were made with a continuous skirt with an apron front instead of the robe and petticoat worn throughout most of the 18th century. On my Pinterest board I’d saved two damask round gowns from various museum collections. This green one is my favorite, but unfortunately I have not been able to find any silk damask in this color:
There is also a pink one from Museum at FIT, which is a good choice given I have pink damask piled on the cutting board:
And here is another one that once belonged to Martha Washington. It is part of the First Ladies display at the Smithsonian. I have seen this display in person twice and it is wonderful:
The pink FIT is the primary design, although I am not crazy about those white undersleeves. I prefer Martha Washington’s, so I will use those as a guide for the sleeve trim and fichu.
Once I got cutting I found I had plenty of fabric to recut as a round gown. I used the JP Ryan robe a l’anglaise pattern. Fitting it was much harder than I remember, but after a couple nights of swearing and re-cutting I had it fitted, and copied the mockup onto Pattern Ease for future use.
Looking at this fabric again I am glad I am not using it with a design that is earlier in the 18th century, as is the case with the JP Ryan Pet-en-l’air pattern I started back in my skinny days. This fabric is very neoclassical and much better suited to late 18th century.
Since I bought it so long ago and it is was old then, I don’t know the exact fiber content. I did a burn test on it and there are no synthetics. I suspect it is a blend of linen and silk, with a small chance of rayon so this will definitely need dress shields (old rayon reacts in very bad ways with sweat). I can iron it on the highest setting and it is perfectly happy, although it smells a bit dusty when heated.
Pink Thing is now cut out – will try to get it together to wear to Tavern Night at the Depreciation Lands Museum.