Friday, December 17, 2010

Silk 1780s Girls' Portrait Dress for Christmas

I will often times make a new dress for Olivia for Christmas. We planned this one well over a month ago. I thought I had lots of time to get this one done, having planned ahead of time. However, as the days marched on Olivia started thinking she would like to wear her new dress to a Christmas party they were having with AWANA. Then I started to think it would be nice to get it done for her Christmas piano recital. Well, trying to get it done for the recital this past Monday was too much, so it did not get done for that event. That's OK, she was able to wear her Toile 1780s dress and she was happy with that.

I had some issues to work out with the pattern for the dress and that I'm afraid, took more time then I planned. That delayed me more then I care to admit. However, now that those issues are dealt with, I have a pattern I can use, over and over again.

Merissa has been playing with photography for the past few years and this past summer, she took a couple of course down in the states. Since then, her skills have grown by leaps and bounds and she is developing quite the eye for the art. Asking for her assistance, she happily took on the task of taking pictures of Olivia in her new dress and two of the boys in their 'dress up fancy' clothes. :)

Merissa did a lovely job with the pictures and the children loved hamming it up for her. Oh and lest I forget to mention, it was freezing cold. I think it was about -13C when Merissa took the pictures. Lovely, rosy red cheeks. ;)

I decided to make a historically inspired dress. Olivia's dress is made from embroidered silk fabrics I purchased at a cloth house in Calgary. I lined the bodice and sleeves with linen. I really like lining the sleeves with linen, that was a great choice. That is one of the period techniques used and I will be using that again. It made it much easier to add trim to the sleeve and the hem of course was hidden between the layers. The trim on the sleeves and neck are bias strips that were cut using a rotary cutter with a scalloped edge and then frayed. I learned this great technique from an excellent seamstress named, Dawn Luckham (she does incredibly beautiful work). Once again, wanting to close up the back with buttons, I added a bit of width to the back of the dress. For the polonaise, I made self fabric loops and they fasten to self covered buttons that are placed on the outside of the skirt. You can't see them in these pictures as they are under her green silk sash. The polonaise can be let down and worn quite nicely that way, too. It's much easier to travel in the car with the polonaise down, rather than up. :) I thought I had adjusted the front of the bodice to be long enough to cover the gold coloured petticoat, but I did not. With any kind of movement, the space between the petticoat and overdress was noticeable. To fix this, I added two lightweight skirt bars and hooks to keep the bodice attached to the petticoat. That works nicely. ;)

When I got the silk fabrics home from the store, I did the burn test on them and they do not test solely silk. They have a man made fiber to them, unfortunately. While I was initially quite happy with this silk, after working with it, I am less so. I will have to be more careful in the silks I purchase there. I would be happy to pay a bit more for a better quality silk. :) For now, I am glad I didn't have to spend too much on the dress and had fun making Olivia feel like a princess. finish up other sewing........



Anonymous said...

Oh Carol...this dress is lovely! And she does look like a princess :-D

I especially like the little play acting with the boys...very nice indeed :)


jennstar said...

You have outdone your self, Carol (again!).
She looks lovely indeed! My girls will be excited to see these pictures.

Carol said...

Maria, thank you! :)

Jenny, we were just huddled around the computer yesterday, listening to your children! Enjoy the festivities of this glorious season. :)