Friday, 14 March 2014

Victorian Evening Bodice

Finally, there was the evening bodice. This was the piece I had the most invested in, emotionally, and the one I was most worried wouldn't work out. The pattern I used for the bodice is a modified 1889 Low Bodice for Gown by Ageless Patterns. The pattern actually came with no construction information, so I applied the techniques I learned in making up my Truly Victorian tailed bodice.

The pattern is sized for a 36" bust and a 28" waist, significantly smaller than my own measurements, or so I thought. I started out by tracing the pattern onto a heavy duty pattern paper which friends regularly source for me. It's fabulous stuff, light enough for tracing, heavy enough that I can pin and sew it for mock ups. To fit the mock up, I laced my corset onto a couple of pillows, pulled it down to my measurements and pinned the paper on. This was the result:

Without modification, the pattern fit. Just to reiterate, the pattern was, on both bust and waist, 8-9 inches smaller than my own measurements. I was confused, but very glad I'd done a fitting step.

The pattern consists of just 4 pieces, front, side front, side back and back piece, which is cut on the fold. I was using a medium weight cotton velvet, as I'd used for my other pieces in this ensemble, so I decided to forgo an interlining and used black satin for the lining.

To ensure the bodice maintained its crisp lines, I added boning channels to all but the very front and side seams, but that was an issue of supply (not having the bones in stock) rather than demand (I had originally planned to bones all of the seams).

I joined fabric and lining using the shell method, that is pinning both pieces front sides facing, sewing along all of the edges and then turning the bodice right side out thought an unfinished lining seam. This allowed me to keep making adjustments as needed... and oh yes, did I need more. To do a proper fitting, I laced the corset onto myself this time, discovering in the process that sewing in a corset is easier than I thought. And the first thing I discovered was even though pillow me suited the mock up nicely, real me needed another 8 inches removed from the waist to give a proper fit! Also, while the body of the pattern didn't need to be enlarged, the armholes of the pattern still suited a smaller set of arms, and I dropped the armscye by three inches to give myself space to put it on. Many hours and some frustration later, and she was made, though not nearly finished. From wearing it too, I've discovered the armscye needs a little bit more adjustment, but that should be a small enough job.

Though a flat bodice does not photograph well from any angle.

I feel the need to mention the trim. The trim was one of the best bargains I ever picked up. Initially spotted by a friend, it was part of a remenant bag of trim that cost all of 50p. I dug through that remenant pile for all I was worth, and came up with another three bags, giving me over 20 metres of trim for just £2! The lace is machine sewn onto a tulle backing, so to for my purposes I've been triming away the tulle before tacking it on.

Just like the train, there was a temporary agony over just how much trim to apply. Overall I fail at Victorian trimmings, I like my garments much too simple to go for the proper trim upon trim, with a little added trim just to be sure. Black and red is an undeniable classic though, so the lace was added at both top and bottom edges, and my but it looks good.

Oh, I also learned how to waltz that weekend, as shown in this picture taken by Andrea's camera. These dresses were just made for dancing, even if I'm going to have to add a wrist loop to the next adjustment of this gown.

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