Sunday, January 31, 2016

Larkin & Smith 18th Century Silk Short Cloak

I figured for the ball I am attending next month I may as well make a pretty cloak. Because...well...dramatic hooded cloak!! Again I can blame movie influences on my love of certain wardrobe items. I will point the finger directly at The French Lieutenant's Woman and more importantly, L.A. Confidential when Kim Basinger meets Russell Crowe for the first time. I really liked Kevin Spacey in that movie BTW. And Russell Crowe was good too. But I have a soft spot for Kevin Spacey, John Malkovich and Gary Oldman.

This is only available as a precut kit. You have a nice array of color choices. I decided on classic black and white because I am also classic. The kit comes with all supplies and instructions. Now, it is meant to be completely hand sewn... Haha! Yeah, no. Not gonna happen. Complete respect to people who love handwork that much. I don't fall into that category because impatient Mimi is impatient.

When I constructed it I just did right sides together, clip seams and turn right side out. Easy peasy. The only part I did stitch by hand were the pleats on the back of the hood, and the hood lining over the neckline seam allowance. The trim I pleated via the sewing machine. Needless to say it went together very quickly. I did have to contact L&S just to ask what part of the hood was top, back, front and neckline since  I didn't have any pattern pieces to reference back to.

The fashion fabric of the cloak is black silk satin. I have never worked with silk satin before. It frays a lot. More than taffeta even. However, it has a lovely soft hand and is very pretty. The lining and trim are white silk taffeta.

I really like how it turned out. :-)

Woman of mystery...

Thursday, January 28, 2016

JP Ryan English Nightgown AKA Robe à l'Anglaise in silk. FINALLY DONE!!!

Did you hear the Angels of heaven singing today. No, no you didn't. That was just me because I finally finished my dress!

This is the second time I have made JP Ryan's English Nightgown. I love and adore this pattern and dress style. I cannot recommend it enough.

Now if you read my last post you know that I screwed the pooch on my sacque back gown. I was making it for a ball next month. I decided to shop from my stash for my replacement gown. I pulled out my lovely chartreuse silk taffeta I was hoarding for another project and used it for my English Nightgown. I like the way it turned out and I am very very pleased with the color combination.

I make the easy non pleated back version. The gown goes together quickly, it is just the trimming that takes some time. The only adjustment I had made to this pattern was to bring up the shoulder a bit. They are always too long on me. I won't do a full on review because I already have done. So here are some pictures! 

Pictures updated 2020

First version on the left and re-trimmed version on the right


Monday, January 18, 2016

When you "screw the pooch" AKA the making of a wadder

Sigh.... I hate admitting mistakes. Especially when they have cost me good fabric, and my pride. But when you read a lot of blogs sometimes it seems like no one else makes wadders (taking the thing you made and wadding it up to toss out) or burn it, burn it baby!!!

There is a fantastic Venetian ball next month that I will be attending. I decided to make the gown of my dreams. The gown I have fantasized about since seeing Dangerous Liaisons in the movie theater circa 1988. I fell in love with the costumes and also with John Malkovich as Valmont. He was such a bastard, but I was completely captivated. What can I say, sometimes the bad guys know...

The dream gown is this:

The Robe a' la' Francaise. I mean, who doesn't love this gown!

My initial planning had me making a black and gold brocade Francaise. The skirt and stomacher were going to be the gold and black brocade and the gown black silk taffeta. 
Side note: My husband will be wearing a blush pink and gold brocade 18th century suit. I have it all made up for him and he is thrilled. Yes, the pink was his idea. He thought it would be nice if I wore pink too. Now, I am not much of a pink girl but there are a few shades I like. Blush pink being one of them. So the black and gold were shuttled away for now, and I happily went shopping for the right shade of pink. Found some beautiful taffeta online and made my purchase. Ooooooo I was so excited! 

Once I had all my ducks in a row. Fabric ready, pattern cut (JP Ryan pattern), machine oiled. Time for fitting the under bodice. The outer gown attaches to a fitted under bodice. So that is your starting point. I made a couple muslins and really felt like I had the under bodice fitted very well.

The under bodice

The entire gown is meant to go over this. It will be attached around the neckline and down the front near the seams on the under bodice. Then a stomacher covers the lacing panels. The stomacher could be the same color as the gown or a contrasting fabric. Once it all comes together you have this lovely graceful gorgeous gown....

A few things went wrong. The first being I don't make a whole lot of 18th century gowns. The second was this particular gown was a bit more challenging in regards to fitting. Beyond my abilities. 

On the plus side I put the whole gown together. No problem. The instructions were easy and the back pleating super easy. No issue with the pattern. But when I went to attach that gown to the under bodice it looked like a nightmare. The neckline was perfect, no issue there. But the body of the gown in the front was horrid.  Drag lines everywhere. I followed the instructions and smoothed and pinned and smoothed and pinned some more. No Bueno. I even tried pinning the fitting lines on the back first, to see if I was just getting extra fabric spillage on the front. Nope. Actually the back looked great when I had it all pinned. I feel like the front of the gown bodice was too long and too wide for the under bodice. I had made one minor adjustment to the under bodice during fitting and I had made sure to copy it over to the gown pattern as well. I SHOULD have made a muslin of the gown too. Sigh...Nothing in the directions say to do this. Only to muslin the under bodice and copy over the changes to the gown also. ALL that beautiful pink fabric gone gone gone!! The fabric budget gone gone gone!!! Argggghhhhhhhhh!!

At some point this is all you can do. No I did not wad up the dress and toss it. It is laying to the side for now. I don't know that it can be salvaged. But I still need a dress for February. So I picked up all my shattered Dangerous Liaisons dreams and dug out my JP Ryan Robe a'l' Anglaise pattern. A tried and true. I made one in linen last year. Then off to my stash. I have some lovely chartreuse silk taffeta that I had purchased for a Belle Epoque dress project. Well, there was my gown and petticoat. Plus I have loads of blush pink scraps and selvedges for trimming the new gown. Green and pink are a nice 18th century color combo. I will be adding gold accents as well. This way husband and I will at least look somewhat similar at the ball.

Here is the new gown! The floral part is an under petticoat, so it will not be seen. The skirt of the dress will be the same green as the gown.

Before I sign off I have a few notes on the JP Ryan pattern:

1. Muslin the under bodice and the gown. At least the top part of the gown.
2. If it is your first Francaise maybe make the short version.
3. The sleeves are tight. Unless you have very thin arms make a muslin of these as well.
4. The construction of the dress IS NOT hard. Even the back pleats. But it is time consuming.
5. I honestly think a lot of people will need a fitting buddy for this dress. This is a hard style to fit on     oneself.
6. Mark all your pleats clearly. I used a Frixon pen for mine. Be warned, Frixon pens will ghost on silk even after you have ironed the marks off. But I don't worry when the marks are buried into a pleat. Also the marks will completely come back if you are below freezing temp. FYI and the more you know.