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I tried, really hard, to get the fashion fabric attached without having the seam allowances of the linen shell on the outside. In the end I couldn’t get it to work along the front edge (it did work along the side-back seams). So I seam-ripped the front edge open, removed the bones there, sewed the fashion fabrics back in there and then re-added the bones. It was worth the ripping to get the smooth and easy seams.
On Friday I also hand-finished applique-ing and top-stitching the yellow trim pieces to each side of the front opening. I think it’s looking lovely. Oh, I also started (and then finished on Sunday) adding the netting to my caul (ok, so “hair-bag” is more descriptive.. but I guess “caul” is more correct. Whatever). If I have time I’ll add pearls to it.
At this point I need Edith’s help (again) to 1) match up the straps so they fit smoothly, 2)do the initial fit on the top of the sleeves and 3) measure for the length of the skirt portion. I think I’m in good shape.

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Finally I have some pictures to show!

boobage.jpg
Gratuitous boob shot from my honey. I guess this is what I get when I ask him to take pictures 🙂
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grbodice_side.jpg



Generally I like how it’s fitting and looking. In specific there are a few problems.

  • I think the white part is too wide. Ok, correction I think it’s too wide at the bottom. If I had the luxury of time I would re-cut the front-side brown pieces and make the front more angled… add about 1-2 inches at the bottom but angle it out so it’s at the same place on the top. Unfortunately I still have to finish Fearghus’ pants and Waffenrock before Purg. So I’m not going to worry about it.
  • I think the bottom is too low in the front. I’m very lumpy. The bottom of the front controls my lumpiness to some degree. That said, I think I’m going to attach the skirt much higher than the bottom of the front piece. I think I’m going to go 2-3 inches higher.
  • Because I’ve “finished” the linen shell it’s fairly hard to attach the wool “fashion fabric”. Now that I’m on to this part of the process I know what I should have done differently earlier. Attaching the wool to the exterior would be much easier if I’d left the seams on the outside of the garment instead of carefully hiding them on the inside. I think I’ll be able to attach the wool but if I make this kind of dress again I’ll definately leave my seams out.

I’m about half way done adding the wool. I’m washing the gold linen (for the brustfleck and trim) today and hope to be able to start attaching it tonight. As soon as I get that done I’ll be able to start making the skirt.

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Too hot to work in sewing room. That room’s on the north-west side of the house and gets all the afternoon sun. I ironed the linen for the insert but couldn’t work up the energy to cut it out and piece it together. Instead I decided to start on an accessory.
I have this hair bag that I made for my Italian dress. I don’t know why I made it for the italian dress.. it seemed like a good idea at the time but in retrospect, when I actually look at the pictures of the italian dress, I can’t find anyone wearing anything like it. Lucky me, this hair bag is the perfect accessory for the german dress. So I’m repurposing it. It’s now a “German Hair Bag”.
To make this I gathered a circle of white silk into a band. I don’t remember the dimensions of the circle (the hair bag was originally made almost two years ago).
Looking at my inspirational pictures above all of the hair bags/nets seems to be slightly brownish. My white silk hair bag was way to bright. I decided to tea dye it.

white_hairbag.jpg
+
tea_dye_bath.jpg


=
golden_haribag.jpg

I boiled a kettle of water. Dumped it into a glass bowl and added 6 chamomile tea bags. The resulting tea looked too light so I added two big sun-tea bags as well. I let this cool for 20 minutes.
I removed the tea bags, wet the hair bag and then dunked it in the tea and swirled it around for a couple minutes. Then I pulled it out and rinsed it. The golden brown looks dark enough to me. So ta-da. Instant golden brown hair-bag. Now, if I’m lucky, I’ll have time to add the netting and pearls.

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So very close. Monday I stopped at Lacis and picked up Lacing Stays. They are -so- the bomb. Fearghus trimmed them to the correct length and helped me to set the grommets in them. Tuesday afternoon I attached them to the shell.
Tuesday night I tried it on. Gah.. again I can’t measure to save my life (or rather I measure and then I’m too conservative in my additions)(once burned by adding too much, now I add to little). The shell, all cinched down is very tight. Too tight. I could wear it that way for about 20 minutes before I cried uncle. I messed with the lace and unlaced it to the point where I was supported but it still felt comfortable enough to wear for a day. At this point I need to add 1 3/8 inches to the top and probably 1 1/2 inches to the bottom. I’ll do this by making one more stab at the white insert. Hopefully this will be the last stab.
Luckily Edith was able to help me connect the sleeve front and back. I’ll be all set to move forward on that once I re-do the insert (again).

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I am again reminded that I need to try harder when I’m using a pattern. When you’re making something that’s closely fitted to your skin you really really need to make sure you don’t (say) accidentally add 1/2 inch to each side of all of the pattern pieces so that the sewn together first draft in linen is about 3 inches too big. *sigh*
So I cut out the dress twice this weekend and sewed it together twice. Take two was much better than take one.
Learnings so far:

  • A pattern piece is a carefully fitted shape that exactly recreates the shape needed to get the desired fit of the garment. Sloppy duplicates of the pattern piece lead to sloppy garments.
  • If you’re a big busty woman you can’t expect really thin linen to support you properly (see Yellow Cote dress diary for the first time I learned this). You’d think that having tried this now twice, I’d learn. But no. When I started cutting out “take one” I thought to myself “gee, this linen is thin” but kept on cutting anyway. Thin linen + sloppy pattern cutting = unsupportive and unflattering garment.
  • Lacing tape is crap. It doesn’t seem like something that would be crap. But believe me, it’s crap. The twill tape is very loosely woven. I’ve tried the garment on twice and already the grommets are popping out of the tape. I’m going to stop by Lacis tonight on the way home and get a couple of 24″ Lacing Stays. These are the things I described as “the bomb” earlier. If I had time I would do hand-bound eyelets.. but only 3 weeks left.. and I still have to make his pants and waffenrock.
  • The original pattern I made up had the center (white) stomach thingy fitting exactly between the left-hand and right-hand sides of the brown part of the bodice. In tweaking this I’ve discovered that I like it better if the white is behind the brown.
    The white is permanently affixed to the brown on the left-hand side.. and then is laced in on the right-hand side. I’ll need to make the white about 1 1/2 inches bigger than the pattern piece so that it will 1) still fit me, 2) get the proper overlap and 3) be able to sew it in such a way that the stitches don’t run over the bones. The lace will need to be set back about 1/2 to 3/4″ on the brown. I think that’ll work much better.

  • Turns out Fearghus is very handy when it comes to making steel bones shorter. That armor making stuff had to come in handy at some point.
  • It’s -very- flattering when you finally get “take two” sewn together.. and you’re modeling it in front of the mirror to decide what to do next.. and your boy practically wolf-whistles at you. 🙂
    (Especially when I think back to his look of horror when he saw the sloppy and unsupportive “take one”.)
bodice_pattern.gif
Pattern pieces (not entirely to scale). From left-to-right, Back, side-back (make 2), front stomach thingy. Bones marked in pale blue.

Here’s a basic picture of the pattern pieces I’ve ended up using. Because the top of the back has such a square between the sleeves and the top of the neck in the back, it made more sense to cut the sleeve-caps as separate pieces and attach them to the back piece (the left piece). In the sewn versions of this, this makes a lovely crisp square at the back neck line. I’m not sure what I’m going to do when I go to add the fashion fabric (wool) on the outside of the bodice. I’m not terribly fond of the idea of showing those seams between the sleeve cap and the rest of the back.. but I do definitely like the crisp square I’m getting by cutting them as two pieces.
After careful consideration I’ve abandoned the idea of adding a tab to the bottom of the back piece. I can’t figure out how I would attach the skirt to the bodice if the tab was in the way. Plan A for now is to just to keep the back bones short enough that they don’t poke me in the butt. Plan B (if plan A fails miserably) is to make a bone casing with integrated tab and hand-stitch that to the interior of the dress -after- the skirt is attached.

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Finished #1-4 above. I forgot to add the tabs to the back-bottom of the bodice. I’ll see about adding it to the final one. Initially I added seam allowance to the straps.. but during the cutting out I convinced myself that wasn’t needed and I cut it off. I really shouldn’t have listened to myself. I’m pretty sure I’ll need to add it back in. Otherwise my straps are way to small. I also think I forgot to add seam allowance to the ends of the straps. *sigh*
Even will all the errors, the cutting out and initial sewing together went very quickly. I’m very close to moving on to working on the actual garment. Not a moment too soon either.. I’m pretty much out of the fabric I’ve been using for the test patterns.
Up next: adventures with linen

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Edith came by last night and helped fix the top of the bodice. In addition to adding the sleeve caps she helped to fit the area around the arm. After it was all fitted she marked where the seam lines should be. Side-back into the arm hole and across the top of the shoulder (just behind the top.. more like top-back). Hopefully this will allow me to cut the current pattern apart to make another copy of it (this time with all the pieces attached). The final bodice is a total of 4 pieces. Back, 2 side-back, and front. The back and side-backs will be made of brown fabric. The front will be made of white with the “brustfleck” on the top.
Things to change on the pattern pieces:

  • Add about 1″ to the back bottom so that I have room to attach the skirt.
  • Add a short square “tail” to the bottom of the middle of the back piece. I want to run the boning down into the tail to prevent those bones from poking me in the top of the butt.
  • Add seam allowance at side-back seam and shoulder seam.

Plan:

  1. Cut out all pieces. Two layers of linen for each piece.
  2. Sew inner back and side-back pieces together.
  3. Sew outer back and side-back pieces together.
  4. Sew inner full-back piece to outer full-back piece along the top, right and left edges (leaving bottom open). Don’t sew shoulder straps. Flip outside-out and iron.
  5. Sew inner front piece to outer front piece along top, right and left edges (leaving bottom open). Flip outside-out and iron.
  6. Add boning channels. Add boning. Add tacking stitches to keep boning in place.
  7. Add lacing strip to one side of the front piece and the matching side of the back piece.
  8. Attach other side of front permanently to back
  9. Try it on.
  10. Adjust the sleeve caps and sew them together.
    Assuming everything above here works:

  11. Add fashion fabric (brown wool) and decorative trim.
  12. Make skirt and attach pleated skirt to bodice.
  13. Make accessories.
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FedEx lied, but in a good way. Fabric arrived yesterday. The brown is acceptable. It’s not the “liver” color I wanted.. but it’s good enough.
I tried to place the sleeve caps. Hard to do when one side is behind your back.. and that’s the side you need to pin down. I’ll wait on “Open Project Night” (tomorrow) and hope that Edith comes over to pin the straps. Other than that I think I’m ready to move onto the actual garment.

Third verse, same as the first

So. Worked on bodice on Sunday. Learnings:

  • Temporary lacing strips are the bomb!
  • If gap between left and right-hand-side of front of dress is say 3 inches wide.. you need a horrendously long lace to tie it closed (longer than my normal 36″ long silk lace)
  • When you have a gap, say 3 inches wide.. and there’s no strong fabric under the laces… and you are.. lumpy.. then lumps press out around the laces. Not terribly attractive.

So back to the corset idea.. though it’s evolved into more of a reinforced bodice than a corset. Using the corset pattern shown above I’ve iterated it to the point that it’s fitting nicely and supporting in all the right places. The next step is to add fabric to the top of the back and around the shoulders to make sleeve caps(the strip that runs from the front of the dress to the back of the dress and is the sleeves attachment point). Need to find pictures of the backs of german ladies dresses. Hrm.

July 31, later that day

Found pictures of the backs of these dresses. They’re very very low AND they seems to have chemise that goes plum up to their neck. This is a problem. Because Purg is going to be hot I definately don’t want an up-to-the-neck chemise (or partlet). So I think I’m going to fudge that part. Maybe a somewhat low-square neckline in the back with no chemise showing. I know it’s at least somewhat wrong.. but it will still give the impression of “German dress”.
Oh, and FedEx says wool will arrive on Wednesday. Crossing my fingers and hoping the brown will be ok.

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I talked with Etaine this weekend. She said that instead of making a corset (which is probably wrong for this dress style) and then fitting a dress over that corset I should instead make the dress and bone the front opening. That makes the dress much easier. I’m thinking run bone along the front edges. Whip lacing rings directly under the boning. Add additional boning if necessary to keep boob-age from leaking into underarms. Use hook and eye to attach front decorated and re-inforced placket to support boobage. So this is essentially like my italian dresses except that the boob will be supported by the decorated placket and the black lacings will run across the stomach, holding the bottom of the dress tight (under the boobs). Much easier than previous plan.
I’m hoping the wool comes this week. I want to make the bodice out of two layers of linen and use that to hold the boning and lacing rings. Then the wool will attach to the outside sort of decoratively. All the strength will come from the linen. I’m pretty sure I have some lovely dark-chocolate linen that would be perfect for this.
I can’t make the decorative placket until I receive the brown wool. I want to make sure that the colors work well together.
Hmmm.. option 2 is to make dress from linen and skip the wool part. That idea has potential. I have black velvet ribbons I used on italian dress. That would easily work on german dress. This idea bears thinking about.