The 1898 Ensemble – 2 days to go.

It's alive! (Supervision ably provided by Sophie, the Wonder Pup.)

It’s alive! (Supervision ably provided by Sophie, the Wonder Pup.)

My back requested a break from sewing, I’ve been at it for four hours straight, so I though I’d make a quick note of where I am as of noon today.

As I was finishing the last of the five tucks in the flounce last night it occurred to me that I could set the bed skirt ruffle into it and kill two tasks with one round of stitching. The header on the bed skirt was too wide, there were five rows of gathering stitches, so I trimmed it down to two rows and carefully set it under the fold of the last tuck. It took forever, since by then it was becoming a pretty squirrely mass that wanted to keep moving all on its own. I pinned about an inch apart – that’s about 170 pins or so – to keep it stable. By the time I was done it was nearly 8:30 and I was tired enough to know it was better to stop for the day than to keep going.

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This morning dawned with a bit of a sprinkle, then…sunshine!! A providential sign for sure. The first order or business was to sew the ruffle into the bottom tuck before it got any other ideas. Happy day – it went in nice and straight without a fuss.

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At this point I should mention that I’m not following the instructions when it comes to the order of putting things together. First of all, I’m changing things up enough that I want to pay attention to what this mass of fabric and flounce needs. Second, I’ve broken this into manageable parts and started with the hardest sections first, so the flounce and ruffle have been getting my attention. And finally they were ready to be sewn onto the rest of the petticoat.

After wrestling with the massive bottom half, the top half went together like a dream. Another change I made was to widen the waistband. I am very long-waisted and over time I’ve found that a wider waistband helps skirts and petticoats to set and hang better. I don’t understand why this is true, but it is and that’s enough for me.

At long last I’d reached the magic step of sewing the top of the petticoat to the ruffled flounce. Still not completely trusting yesterday’s math, I measured yet again and read through the directions one last time. And promptly noticed a little detail that had escaped me during yesterday’s math madness.

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2014-03-20 08.40.17While figuring out how much to trim off the flounce to accommodate the deep ruffle, I forgot to account for the 1.5-inch hem. Oh, bother! But, all in all, better to realize it now than 2 hours – and thousands of stitches – down the road. My skirt is still on the dress form, so I measured waist-to-hem (40 inches) and measured the petticoat top and bottom halves, then subtracted an inch for the seam allowance and got 39.5 inches. Yup – that overlooked 1.5 inches was staring me in the face.

In a way, though, it’s really good news because 1) it means my math was right, and 2) at this point it’s another easy fix. I don’t want to take too much more off of the flounce, because the tucks are getting a bit close to the seam for my comfort. But I can trim some off the top half and not affect the overall silhouette too badly. This is the penalty I’m paying for using such a deep ruffle. It’s still saving me loads of time, but historical accuracy is getting tweaked mercilessly.

Now it’s to the kitchen for some lunch followed by some quality outdoor time with Sophie before the sun changes its mind. Then back to finish this rowdy pile of ruffly fluff.