As I mentioned in my regency petticoat post, I’ve finally started work on the red/white dress! I first blogged about this dress back in March 2014, so nearly 2 years afterwards, it’s actually happening!
This was the plan:
And the method for putting on the dress will be like this image from my post on v-neckline front closing gowns:
The only thing left to decide for construction was how to create the little ‘modesty placket’ in the center front, filling up the v neckline. I’ve seen this on a lot of paintings, but couldn’t find any actual dresses which had it.
My original inspiration has it:
And so do these inspiration paintings:
In the end, I had 2 theories. The first is that it’s the bodiced petticoat peeping through. The only problem I have with that theory is that the paintings show the same lace on the placket as on the dress. And I don’t think it very likely that petticoats would have lace matched to the gown. The second theory is that it’s constructed to the dress somehow. It seems most likely to me that in this case, it’s an extra bodice piece connected to the sides of the dress which goes underneath the overlapping pieces.
In the end, I chose to make it in this second way. Basically, I made 4 front pieces. 2 For the outer layer which create the v-shape, and 2 which form the ‘lining’, and have a piece of fashion fabric which peeps out underneath. If this is unclear, there’s pictures of how I did it later in the post! (If anyone has information on how plausible this method is I’d love to know!)
So, on to making the bodice!
I started with adapting the bodice pattern I used for my blue dress, which was again an adaptadion of the Sense & Sensibility’s Elegant Ladies Closet pattern. This actually happened pretty quickly, as I had saved my mock-up. Although the blue dress has a back closure and a gathered front, I made the mock up for the lining with a fitted front and a front closure to make fitting easier. This meant I only had to change the shape of the front panels.
I cut out the pattern pieces, and the lining. For the front lining, this was basically a long strip of which I checked the length later.
I constructed the lining and the outer layer separately, and then put them together and hand-sewed them together. These are the little stitches visible on the side and back panels of the bodice. Next up was finishing the neckline, which I did by turning over the outer fabric. I whip-stitched this down on the back. For the neckline, I again used the little stitches. Because of the construction, there’s no lining directly under the outer fabric for the v-shape.
For the front lining, I cut an extra piece of ‘outer’ fabric for the center, the part which would show. I attatched this to the lining piece, again by hand.
The bodice without sleeves:
Before making any of the closures, I first wanted to attach the sleeves because they can change the fit quite a bit. I cut out the sleeve pattern from both the cotton and the outer fabric and flat-lined them together.
Next up were the little red wings on top of the sleeve. I drafted a pattern based on the sleeve pattern and checked how it looked in cotton. It seemed to work fine, so I cut 4 pieces from my red fabric. I hemmed the pieces by hand, which was quite fiddly because of the strong curve, but I think it turned out all right.
I then gathered the top of the wings and pinned them to the sleeves.
Last step were the sleeve bands, which I decided to decorate with piping. I’d never made this before, but I like how it turned out. I made the piping, and attached the sleeve bands.
The very last step was to attach the sleeves, and the bodice is done!
Well, nearly, because there’s no closures yet. I want to try to attach the skirt first to make sure the fit is good.
Some pictures! A slight note, that my dress-form is quite a bit ’rounder’ at the top than I am when wearing stays. So the bodice fits more smoothly on me.
The bodice witht the front ‘flaps’ turned back looks like this:
On the left side (on the picture, right side on me) the large strip is attached.
Normally, a lining like this would close in the center, but that would show. So I made a ‘long’ right (left on picture) flap and a short left (right on picture) one. It now attaches to the side. In the picture it closes with a pin, this will probably become a hook and eye closure.
A detail of the stitching on the bodice back which attatches the lining:
And of the top of the bodice at the back, where it’s whip-stitched to the lining.
And the sleeve:
And a detail, showing the stitches from the lining.
A bit of a weird perspective, but this shows the shape of the wings.
And a close-up of the piping and sleeve band!
Next up will be the skirt and closures.