Wednesday, March 1, 2017

On a Positive Note: Sleeves!

Well, after a very long and stressful half-week, I can say that my new regency ballgown is done except for some handwork (interior finishing, hem, closures). What relief! This has been one of those projects where nothing seemed to go right. All said, though, I think it's going to work out in the end (but as I haven't had a final try-on yet, I shouldn't say that too loudly!). After my slight internet-public meltdown the other day, I thought I'd share my favorite part of this dress as a happier note to leave you with.

Several months ago, I happened upon this 1823 fashion plate from LACMA:

I loved the simple silhouette dressed up by the embroidered over-layer, and the contrasting/plain bands on the waist and sleeves. I was also drawn to the vertically-gathered sleeves, which are just a hint of Renaissance revivalism. (I've been on a Renaissance-inspired poofy-sleeve kick I think-the Rgency day dress I'm planning is similarly princessy.)

I've never made sleeves with vertical poofs like this, and after the hellish assembly process for the rest of the dress I'll admit I had a moment where I almost bailed. But the sleeves were my favorite part! I couldn't give up! So I didn't, and I'm glad.

Of course, because this is dress is trying to drive me mad*, I didn't actually have enough embroidered net left to cut sleeves. After a lot of fussing I ended up piecing the scraps I had into something usable, which worked quite well-plan B was to use leftover tulle from my 1830s dress.

the layers of one sleeve pinned for basting--you can see the piecing seams here
 Given my precious little fabric, I should certainly have made a mockup first...but I didn't. Dangerous living! Although to be fair, I used the same basic strategy I always use (measure the armscye and double it) for a basic puff sleeve, so I was pretty sure I'd be ok. To each basted rectangle I added four vertical lines of gathering stitches while it was still flat so it would be easier to sew.
gathering stitches
Then I made the rectangles into tubes, added gathering stitches to the top and bottom openings, and started pulling the verticals.

scrunchy poofy tube!
Finally I gathered it into the armscye as usual. At some point I decided I didn't like the pointed edge after all (I am weirdly not one for ruffles in this period), so I cut the very edge of the net off and added a solid band of silk.

The jury's still out on how these will wear, but all in all I'm quite pleased with them. So that's one thing to feel good about as I pack this up and pray to all the travel deities that my luggage isn't lost!

 *I've started mentally referring to this dress as Elsa, because it reminds me of icicles and is a little bit evil without meaning to be. I'll get over it once I wear the thing...or should I say, I'll Let It Go?

1 comment:

  1. Oh Squeeee!! Your sleeves are so perfect! They make me so happy! Can't wait to see the finished product!