Saturday, April 9, 2016

Half Mourning Dress of WIN!

Longtime readers and friends will remember this dress from 2014, when I went back to Greenfield Village in Michigan to see Tim Eriksen in concert to see ktlovely and attend one of my favorite Civil War events. I was not happy with how the dress turned out, but instead of trying to sell it as soon as I got home (my usual MO) I was actually determined to rework the dress.

And I am so happy I stuck with it! I absolutely love the dress now, even if it's not the fanciest or flashiest thing out there. It's well made and well fitted, and I can put it on and not fuss with it the rest of the day. I finished and wore the new dress for an event at The Mariners' Museum, where I had an interpretive display set up of original and reproduction mourning items and gave a brief lecture. The next post will be about my display and the event itself, so stay tuned!

The first thing I wanted to do was cut a new bodice. The original bodice didn't fit quite right and I wasn't happy with the double points. Also, the trim was fraying like nuts because I cut it on the wrong grain! So I reused the bodice back and cut new fronts out of the black and white checked silk. I toyed with the idea of entirely new sleeves but ended up just putting double puffs on the sleeves I had already made. The style is very pretty and it saved me time! I used buttons and buttonholes to close the bodice, since I can now do buttonholes in my sleep when I used to dread them (thanks sewing-for-a-living!). The buttons are antique black glass, inspired by the buttons on this extant dress. This time around, I went with a very simple trim: a lovely black fringe. While the lavender trim of the first version was nice, I was really feeling a more subtle direction for this version. And as with all trim, I can always change it later!

The next change was to lengthen the skirt, which was just a bit too short for my taste. I added about 5" to the top of the skirt. The plaid doesn't match but I find it charming, since plaids don't always match on originals and I think it adds that element of realism to the dress. I also added 20" to the circumference of the skirt because Michael and I worked together to make me a new cage crinoline! I finally splurged on the Needle and Thread kit, which is truly an awesome reproduction. Everything is a perfect copy of originals! I knew I wanted something bigger than my previous cages, which were always 108". My new cage is 116" and that bit of extra circumference really makes a difference. I am very happy with the shape and silhouette the cage gives. I'll do a post on the cage itself eventually, along with the new petticoat I made to go over it. 


The rest of the images are here.

A few detail shots...

The antique buttons:

The buttonholes:

Sleeve construction. The sleeves are flatlined in cotton and then the bottom few inches are faced with the silk.

Double points, piped:

Back single point:

The center back of the skirt is gauged (cartridge pleated) to take up fullness.

The side back seams are topstitched by hand. Finger for scale

The dress laid out.

The skirt is faced with cotton and a wool hem tape applied at the bottom.


Kate said...

This is absolutely stunning! The details really make the dress.

Steamin Along said...

What a beautiful dress! Well done!

Miss Brilliantine said...

Really lovely! BTW I have a Pinterest page called "unmatched plaid". So very period.

Bianca Esposito said...

Gorgeous! The fabric is really chic and beautiful done up in this style. Those double points are really cool and I like how the trim forms a sort of faux swiss waist. Always such a pleasure seeing your projects :)

Historical Ken said...

Hope to see you at Greenfield this year.

Unknown said...

Nailed it!! This is so amazing on so many levels.

vintagevisions27 said...

Gorgeous!! What a marvelous job. :)

Jessica Greyson said...

This is beautiful!

Caroline said...

Total WIN! I must say, I have never seen a reproduction piece that looks so much like the real thing. The polished cotton, the piecing, just all of it. And so very flattering, too! The bodice trim is beautiful. Win win win! Very inspiring :)

Anonymous said...

Incredible talent

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Anonymous said...

What pattern did you use? Or was this from scratch? Your dresses are my absolute favorite.

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