Tag Archives: other people’s sewing

The (not so little) black dress

A couple of months back, maybe not too much after I announced the impending twinpocalypse, one of the sweetest people on the internet, Gillian of Crafting a Rainbow, offered to make me (and/or impending babies) a present. Being an irredeemable mooch, I naturally eagerly agreed, and then didn’t think much about it. Me Made May came and went, June whizzed by, and my wardrobe shrank slowly, while my energy and motivation to sew replacement pieces ebbed lower.

Well, last week Gillian let me know a package was on its way. How exciting!!
In the meantime, the latest Sewcialists Mini-Challenge dropped: spin the wheel, get a colour from the Sewcialists logo, and make something in that colour. By Sunday. Anyway, I conveniently (or boringly) spun black. Blue would’ve been more fun, but I have plenty of black fabric, and my machine and serger are both threaded with black from the Myosotis, so there was a lot to be said for it. I was toying with the idea of a black knit dress, not too flashy, maybe in a rayon knit if I could find the energy to dig through the bins, with either a circle or handkerchief skirt. I’m really liking how my knit Vogue 1312 is holding up to the rigors of pregnancy, and something along those lines (but sleeveless, and a simpler skirt) seemed appealing.

So imagine my excitement when I opened the wee little package (which arrived Friday afternoon) and found a black rayon knit dress with a handkerchief skirt!!!!

It also came with strict instructions to modify and hack as needed, for fit or boredom.

The theory was perfect, the practice a little less so—in the super-stretchy black rayon the bodice was loose, and the weight of the skirt pulled it WAY down, to around where my waist used to be–when it was meant to be more empire-lined. But this also made it perfect for the mini-challenge. I carefully cut off the skirt, took in the side seams, and trimmed an inch off the bodice. While I was at it, I narrowed the binding a wee bit, for a more delicate look and also cleavage (I did not do a good job, I will note. Oh, well.) So in the end I wound up re-sewing every seam but the shoulders, including the awesome tag:

And I did take a goofy before picture (as per Gilliam’s request), but apparently not in a form that I can find later.

In any case! Behold the dress! In final (?) form. It is, of course, perfectly comfy and breezy and stretchy while also being suave and possibly even svelte (to the extent that anyone pregnant is svelte).

I may still have to trim a bit of length off the skirt, as it’s long even in these heels and likely to keep growing. But that’s easily done, and either way I have a fabulous and practical new dress!

Advertisements

13 Comments

Filed under Sewing

Pink Mystery Corset

A little while ago I took one of my besties from Cowtown, who was visiting, out for coffee and a little toodle through some of the local antique shops. She didn’t find anything, but one place that sells a charming, or possibly annoying, array of select antiques and hipstery artisanal doodads, had a shabby little antique pink corset on display. Naturally, I had to inquire as to the price. It was right (as it should be given that the condition is, well, let’s just say not museum quality. 😉 ), so I came home with an authentic Victorian-ish little corset. 

It’s quite a short corset, no more than about 28 cm (11″) at the tallest surviving part. (That’s at the bust area.)

At the side: 22 cm (8 3/4″)

At the back: 25 cm (10″)

Half bust: 38 cm (15″)

Most sadly, it is missing the front busk entirely, so I don’t know how big most of it would have been. Only the very top edge is complete: about 15″ per side. I don’t think it would have reached up to the full bust, so it’s maybe not actually as tiny as that first appears: 15″x 2 + 2″ lacing gap is 32″, which would actually quite possibly have fit me. 

Surviving half waist is 23.5 cm (9 1/4″), but this is short at least 2.5 cm (1″) and probably more like 4-6 cm. If the original waist was 11″ per side, that would work out to about 24″ total for a 2″ lacing gap—too small for me but a very reasonable Victorian waist size. 

It’s made of two layers of rather shattered silk in a pale ivory/blush colour; the outer layer has a brocade pattern of scattered tiny flowers.  There is a wide (6cm, 2 1/4″) lace trim both top and bottom, stitched down along a narrow pink ribbon. 

It’s made strictly in panels (no gores or gussets), six to each side, and boned along each side of each seamline, with two bones at each side of the back lacing. The shaping appears to be fairly slight, though it’s hard to get a good sense of the shape without stuffing it on something. 

The bones are stitched into ribbon casings on the inside. The binding was machine stitched on the outside, and then hand-stitched down on the inside. 

I am assuming these are real whalebones. I’ve never actually seen the real thing to compare. 

They are flat, thin, very light, and still quite springy and flexible. 

The lacing runs through tiny handstitched eyelets, no metal grommets, so it wouldn’t have stood up to heavy tightening. 

The lacing appears to be original, and is a wide, flat woven tape that compresses very tiny to go through the tiny eyelets. It is tipped with long, dark metal tips at the bottom ends, but all the extra length is pulled out and tied at the waist. 

The pink ribbon anchoring the lace has teeny bows at both front and back ends. 

It’s quite exquisitely delicate. I only wish the busk, or whatever front closure was used, had survived.

I have some thoughts of my own about the age and kind of corset it may have been, but I’m so far from an expert I hesitate to throw them out there. I’d love to hear your thoughts. (Especially if you know a good method for taking a pattern from such a fragile item!)

11 Comments

Filed under Sewing