Sunday, February 3, 2019

Simplicity 8411 Claire's Outlander Red (not red) Dress

So there is an Outlander ball next month that several of us are planning on attending. Of course I wanted to make a new gown!

If you are interested in the ball go here Outlander Fanatics of Washington State You will need to join the group and then you can get all the ball info and how to get tickets. :-)

Based on the 18th century Robe de Cour. Dress laces up the back, 3/4 sleeves and separate skirt which is cartridge pleated to a waistband and hooked to the bodice. The bodice is fully boned and acts like a a pair of stays. The pattern also comes with panniers that are the perfect size for the skirt.

Vespers silk taffeta from Silk Baron (yummy!!!) Embroidered net lace. Pink tulle strips and silver gimp braid for bodice trim. Misc lace for sleeves and lace tucker inside neckline. I underlined the bodice with down proof ticking and it is lined with cotton sateen. Boning is all plastic.

Size and alterations:
I checked the finished bodice measurements before I decided on size. I was a bit apprehensive because when I costume I normally have stays or corset so my measurements are static. With this pattern there is no need for stays so I used my standard measurements which can fluctuate a bit from day to day. :-/

Looking at the finished size measurements I knew I would want to size down at least one size range. Simplicity notes that ease above body measurement is 1/2 an inch for this gown. Hmmmmmmm..... However if I am treating it like stays then I want a bit of negative ease so I have some support. The big 4 patterns seem to think we need ease in corsets and stays. That would be a giant NO. My aim was for a 1 inch back lacing gap.

Going by bust size I fall between 20 and 22. I decided on size 20 based on the finished garment measurements. Because I'm short between my apex and shoulder I cut size 16 for the neckline, shoulders and arm openings. Size 20 was for all the other seams. If I had cut size 20 for everything the neckline, shoulders and arm openings would have been way too large. I also used size 16 for sleeves.

The only alteration I made was taking the V cut out of the bodice neckline.

Easy to make. I did use plastic coated hoop boning for mine instead of the featherweight boning requested on the pattern envelope. I wanted them to be able to support the weight of the skirt plus two under petticoats. The skirt really looks better with a couple of petticoats underneath so the hoop bones don't show.

I used size 22 for the skirt/petticoat. You are using hooks and bars so you will want some tension in your waistband (NO ease!!) I notice the big 4 patterns also like to put ease in waistbands too.

The outer petticoat (AKA skirt) is made similarly to an 18th century skirt/petticoat. It has a front and back waistband that close together (overlap) on each side with hooks and bars. It is open from the waistband down about 9 inches on each side so you can wear a pocket in the 18th century style. The skirt front and back are cartridge pleated to the waistband. It is not difficult to do but it's very time consuming because it is done by hand. If you need a good tutorial on this go here-- Historical Sewing

The instructions are good for the making of the pleats but lack on the attaching them to the waistbands. The instructions don't show sewing it to the waistband RST and then hingeing it up like I have done in the past. Use the Historical Sewing tutorial instead for that step. It will look much better.

The downside of multi sized patterns is apparent in the skirt. The skirt pattern pieces are the same measurement for every size. The larger you are the less pleat density you will have. Using a thin fabric makes them even more sparse for us plumper ladies. I did use some interfacing to thicken up my fabric up to the fold line on the top of the skirt. I'm glad I did but I still feel that my pleats are thin. It's not a deal breaker but if you are in the larger size range you could probably skip the cartridge pleats and just do traditional knife pleats, skip the fold over and attach it to a waistband in the traditional manner. This would in turn give you more skirt length since you aren't using the fold over at the top.

The skirt runs short if you are taller than 5ft 4ish. I am wearing a 1.5 inch heel and the skirt doesn't touch the ground. I'm not quite 5ft 4 inches tall without shoes on. You will want more yardage if you are taller.

Bodice construction:
I made one muslin. I stitched up the back and left the center front seam open to check fit.

Time consuming. Lots of boning channels to sew and boning to cut. I used mostly plastic except for the back lacing bones where I used flat steel instead. It gives more support to the lacing grommets. If you are putting tension on your lacing you don't want flimsy bones that will buckle. Slimmer ladies may not have that issue.

Inserting sage advice here:
Set in the grommets asap once you have the bodice put together and the back boning channels done. That way you can try it on and make sure you want to keep going.

If I make this again I will not insert the boning until I have the sleeves put in. The instructions have you put in all the boning, bind the bottom and then put in the sleeves. That was a HUGE pain in the ass. All that boning flopping around while maneuvering sleeve sewing thru my machine.

More sage:
I used the rabbit ears method for my lacing while making the gown. I was able to easily loosen and tighten my laces so I could just pull it on over my head and tighten away. No lacing help needed.

Bodice construction continued:
The bodice went together fine until I got to the sleeves. The sleeves are very generous in size. Even the size 16 I used are roomy. If you have very full upper arms you may not need to adjust them.

The only way I was able to get the sleeves set in so the dot matched up to the shoulder seam was pleating them towards the front, not the back. Even the line art in the instructions show the pleats folded to the front in the first drawing and then to the back in the second drawing.

On outside of sleeve pleats are going to the front.

Next step the pleats are folded in the opposite direction. You can only see the inside of the pleats here but if the inside folds are pointing to the front then the outside folds will be pointed to the back. When I had them pleated to the back as shown that dot was nowhere near the set back shoulder seam. 

I first basted my sleeves in with my pleats to the back. I really didn't like how they looked. I have the same feelings when I look at the Simplicity website pictures.  I went back and refolded the pleats to the front (hey that dot finally matched up to the shoulder seam!!!!) and set them in. I don't know that they look any better but that damn dot was matching up so now I can at least sleep at night.  I decided to just leave them like that and let it go. Pleats to the front or pleats to the back....well it's only a costume anyway and I tend to do my own thing so...

A bit more sage:
If I ever made this again I would grab a different 18th century sleeve pattern and go that route. I don't like the sleeves on this.

More on the bodice:
The bodice is quite short. I'm short waisted and this fits me perfectly. If you have a longer waist you will definitely want to make adjustments. I visited the American Duchess blog here American Duchess Simplicity 8411
to get some guidance on this style of gown and decorating the bodice. It was very helpful!

Final notes:
I do recommend this pattern. I would say not for a beginner. Intermediate and up. The sleeves are meh. On the other hand, slap enough lace and bows on them to draw the eye away from the sleeve cap. ;-)

The costumes from Outlander have gotten a bit of hate but the red dress was a particular target. I don't watch the show and haven't read the books in years. I have seen enough still shots to understand the controversy. Whatever..... I didn't choose this dress for historical accuracy. I wanted a big 18th century-ish gown with a really full skirt. I'm happy with the end result in spite of the sleeves. It's a labor intensive project overall and even more so if you are decorating the bodice. Yay pictures!!

Here are some pictures from the Outlander Ball!

 Hitting on the cardboard Jamie.

Silly 18th Century shot!

 Claire needs to STEP OFF!

 The Countess was also taking advantage of cardboard Jamie

 Selfie time with Lady Champagne!

 The always lovely Countess!

 Myself, Lady Rebecca, Lady Champagne and the Countess.

 Always fun selfies with the Countess!

 Lady Cynthia writing letters!

Mirror selfie!

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Laughing Moon Pattern 138 Regency Gown and time for a ball!

Oh it was that time of year again!!! The Washington Regency Society's 12th night ball. It was fantastic and so thoughtfully put together. Of course I needed a new dress for it! I wanted to dig into Laughing Moon 138 for awhile so now I had an excuse.

Mid to later Regency with loads of different trim/neckline/sleeve options. The waistline is a bit lower and there are bust darts. The dress buttons up the back.

I am pretty much a size 22 in LM patterns so that is what I used. I made no alterations.

Silk shantung for the dress and cotton for lining.

I used the mid neckline and the slash and puff sleeve. The trim on the skirt and bodice was my own design.

Great! I have no complaints. The slash and puff sleeves are time consuming but worth it. They do require some hand sewing.

The darts, oh the darts:
Soooooooo......The darts are very high and very pointy. I don't care for them. Next time I will use gathers. One of my friends made her bodice with gathers and it looks really nice. I was unhappy enough with the darts so I covered them with some gathered trim.

Final thoughts:
This makes up into a lovely gown. I will use this pattern again for sure!

The ball was great fun! I didn't really take any pictures since I was too busy having a good time. ;-)