Curses, Foiled Again!

Labyrinth - 19th Century Board game 'The Mansion of Bliss' . Created by Thomas Newton.

Labyrinth – 19th Century Board game ‘The Mansion of Bliss’ . Created by Thomas Newton.

It is now quite clear to me that I cannot fix my bodice issue without help from someone who knows how to “see” what needs to be done. If the sleeve cap was too big for the bodice, all I’d have to do would be pleat it at the back bodice armscye and call it done. No such luck.

The problem is that the bodice is too big for the sleeve. In a ridiculously overemphasized 3-D view it would look like a mixing bowl set upside down over marble. The curve of the sleeve being the marble, and the mixing bowl being the way-too-big bodice armscye…and I can’t gather or pleat the bodice to bring to down to the match the sleeve cap.

I’ve put this bodice through all manner of tortured origami with no luck. When I used my original approach it distorted the bodice armscye to the point where I would have needed to go back to the original sleeve (before trimming down the cap) to even come close.

Yesterday, I spent nearly four hours fiddling with this problem and getting nowhere. One obvious solution is to just cut another bodice and/or another set of sleeves, but there’s no more fabric left. I bought it years ago and that fabric run is long gone: I had just enough to cut this one garment. (Which serves to reinforce the value of making a muslin for everything first, which there wasn’t enough class time to do.)

So, it’s time to call in the pros. Fortunately, the next SITU sewing circle is in a couple of weeks and I know Bobbie Kalben will spot the problem in an instant.

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As I see it, the worst case scenario is that I end up ditching the bodice and the sleeves and turning the skirt into a “petticoat” with shoulder straps. Then I could make a spencer to go with it and not lose this beautiful fabric altogether.

(Lemons…lemonade…you know.)


Upright and Well-Chilled.

Things are much better on this side of the sunshine…I’m feeling pretty perky after some good sleep. Bonus – my elbow feels pretty darned good, too.

We’re in the midst of another front blowing through. Literally. The sky is clear in a beautiful blue that escapes description. However, it’s filled with gusts of snow that look like puffs of tiny, sparkling diamonds. The current weather report notes 32 degrees (F) with winds at 10 mph. Ha! Where I’m sitting it’s 30 degrees and the winds are running about 20 mph with gusts of about 40 mph. So when all of those beautiful, glittering bursts of snow hit your face it feels like thousands of sharp needles.

The hard-core shoppers will be severely disappointed – there are only two roads out of here and they are both closed due to a lot of downed trees (we’re talking big pines, firs and cedars) and dangerous conditions. You’ve seen official warnings along the lines of “don’t drive unless you have to”, right? Today it’s just plain “don’t drive.”

Aha – they just updated the weather report: wind chill is 20 degrees (F). That’s more like it. I was going to go out and take a photo of the laterally blowing snow. Change of plans. I’m staying indoors. (Although my front room is 55 degrees, that’s a whole lot better than 20.)

Sophie - going deep

Sophie – going deep

Sophie has her game plan on…1) wriggle yourself deep into a crevasse between the back of the sofa, the sofa blanket and the pillows, 2) snooze, and 3) repeat as desired.

Looks like there will be sewing today after all. As long as the hot chocolate holds out, that is. And the electricity.

Magical Snow, Cranky Elbow and Not Sewing.

Two Victorian ladies making what has to be the most elegantly lovely snow(wo)man of all time.

Two Victorian ladies making what has to be the most elegant snow(wo)man of all time.

I’ve been trying to sleep for hours now, but slumber won’t come. My head is full of ideas cavorting about and having quite the bash – they refuse to settle down. So here I am at 4:30 in the morning with the hope that writing will help release some of those party animals. That’s what I get for serving my de-caffeinated self a strong cup of “real” tea in the evening.

After diligently babying my elbow for weeks it was about 99% healed. Until two days ago when, feeling cocky, I lifted a relatively heavy bag of groceries and carried it from the car to the house. Mr. E. has been screaming ever since. Stupid thing to do, but there you have it. It already feels better, but its stubborn achyness is another reason I’m doing this instead of sleeping.

Not much sewing got done this week, as you’ve probably suspected given the lack of posts. A particular annoying bit of life popped up and my energies were spent getting it straightened out. At least getting the paperwork together to straighten it out. My Georgian/Regency bodice lays there and pouts every time I pass by, and I don’t blame it one bit.

On the deliriously happy front, it started to snow a few hours ago. It went from icy rain to a bit of sleet to that weird not-sleet-but-not-snow transitional stuff to bona-fide snow – the first snow of the year.

I love snow. Love it. Love to watch it fall. Love to walk in it. Love to catch the flakes on my tongue. Love the absolute silence it creates. I was eight years old the first time I saw it snow and I still believe it’s powerful earth-magic. I get positively giddy over it and behave like a three-year-old when I’m in it.

Sophie, the Wonder Pup, has never seen snow so it will be interesting to see how she reacts. She already has snow boots and good coat (not that she knows it) so we’ll test out the new gear later today.

Well it’s now after 5am and I’m still wide awake. Looks like I’ll be watching the lovely blanket of white reveal itself as the sun comes up. Ooooohhhhh. Pretty. Yawn.


Your Weekend Wow!

It’s a tie this week – two lovely dresses, each elegant in its own way. I can’t decide which to post so I’m just going to share them both. Enjoy!!

Worth ballgown, 1900-1905. Silk and cotton with metallic thread, glass, and metal ornamentation.

Worth ballgown, 1900-1905. Silk and cotton with metallic thread, glass, and metal ornamentation.

detail of skirt - Worth ballgown, 1900-1905. Silk and cotton with metallic thread, glass, and metal ornamentation.

detail of skirt – Worth ballgown, 1900-1905. Silk and cotton with metallic thread, glass, and metal ornamentation.

Now, we go from 1903-ish silk and cotton to 1879 silk and wool.

Wedding dress, Finnish, 1879. Ivory silk and wool. One piece. Helsinki Univ. Museum via Tekstiilihistoria.

Wedding dress, Finnish, 1879. Ivory silk and wool. One piece. Helsinki Univ. Museum via Tekstiilihistoria.

Those thousands of itty bitty pleats absolutely blow my mind.

Achoo! (sniff, sniff)

(source unknown)

Let me be frank: what ever this demonic bug is, I hate it. I feel crummy, then I feel like it’s going away then – wham! – it’s back. On any given day I’m congested or not, coughing or not, sneezing or not, headache-y or not, feverish or not, feeling like a drained battery or not – or any/all symptoms appearing in random combinations.

For example: I went to bed early last night with a low-grade fever and feeling exhausted. At 2 a.m. I woke up with a massively congested head. Hot, steamy water didn’t help much so I took a decongestant and went back to sleep. Eventually. Then at 5 a.m. I awoke again, this time with a pounding quasi-migraine headache. Popped two Tylenol Migraine tabs and fell asleep fairly quickly (thank goodness) and slept until 10:30. Woke up with neither headache nor congestion. But now I’m sneezing. *rolls eyes*

To quote Her Majesty: We are not amused.

Project Update: I did manage to get the third skirt panel cut and the back bodice adjusted on the Regency gown. Still fiddling with adjusting the sleeve caps, which is a bit tricky without help (translation – I stabbed my shoulder twice, but it did take my mind off the cold for a few minutes). I think it will end up with a comfortable fit, which would be great.

I will be devoting more time to the gown this weekend so it’s a good thing it’s washable. Don’t know if I’ll get it done, but am shooting for at least finishing up the machine work. If I can stay awake for more than 5 hours a day, that is.

Don’t be surprised if this weekend’s Wow! features antique bathrobes and house slippers.

(Photograph - R. Smith)

(Photograph – R. Smith)

Armscye versus Sleeve. Fiddlesticks!

It should have been obvious to me that a public display of enthusiasm would come back to bite me. And it wasted no time doing so.

Sleeve edge is at the top, armscye is at the bottom.

Sleeve edge is at the top, armscye is at the bottom. Not good.

I pinned the right side sleeve into the right side armscye and…uh oh. The armscye is larger than the sleeve, which is not supposed to happen. And it’s weird because I never have problems with setting in sleeves and never have had. Even matching plaids. (It’s as close as I come to having a super-power.) Anyway, I was stumped.

I double-checked that I did indeed sew the right sleeve to the right armscye and not the left sleeve to the right armscye. I didn’t know why this was happening but I basted it into place, went to the left side and the same thing happened. They say one sign of success is being able to reproduce your results, but this ain’t it.

Lookin' good from the front.

Lookin’ good from the front. Sleeves will be trimmed to elbow length.

Since I’m a visual learner I put the bodice back onto the dress form. Sure enough, it was evenly “air-conditioned” on both sides. No matter how I wiggled it around on the dress form, it wasn’t going to make a difference in the gaps.

I racked my brain trying to figure out how this happened and the light bulb finally flickered. Back at the workshop, when Nora was helping me with fitting the sleeves, there was too much fabric at the top (because of my sloping shoulders) so she re-drew the cutting line and it ended up below the original cutting line. She said, “Here you go.” I went merrily on my way.

Now I know that when you’re changing a curve the adjoining curve also need altering so the two curves will still meet at the seam. I know that. And today I forgot all about it. Since we made the sleeve cap smaller the bodice armscyes need to be adjusted. I didn’t do that. Hence the mismatch.

A pinch here...

A pinch here…

Luckily, a minor adjustment at the back strap seam takes care of the problem nicely, makes a good match with my sloping shoulders and leaves just enough sleeve for a bit of minor gathering/pleating. So now I’m figuring a way to make the adjustment without taking the whole thing apart. Fingers crossed.

...and a tuck there...

…and a tuck there…

The Round Gown Bodice – Update

Despite rumors to the contrary, I have been working on my hand sewing and yesterday I finished the bulk of work on the bodice for the round gown. Here it is just draped over my dress form (i.e., no foundation garments, wrong chemise).

round gown bodice

round gown bodice

The neckline casing was done with a simple, on-the-grain piece of self fabric. I used my machine to sew it on and understitch to keep it flat. Then I turned the casing and sewed it down by hand. A length of white 1/4-inch grosgrain ribbon works great for gathering the neckline and tucks inside to stay hidden.

One of the things I like about Nora Azevedo’s pattern is its utter simplicity. The 1795 style is genuine. It’s a simple two-drawstring garment, with one at the neck and one at the waist and both gathered from the center front. No buttons or fiddly bits. One piece, over-the-head, pop on and go. This is the one I should have started with. Now that I can see with my own eyes what the fit is supposed to look like my other 1795 pattern makes a lot more sense, fit-wise.

Tomorrow is another sewing circle (yay!) so today I’ll french seam the sleeves and sew them onto the bodice. But I’ll leave the sleeve caps hand basted so we can fiddle with the pleating and get the fit just right.

In addition, I’d like to get that third panel of the skirt seamed and at least basted in place because I think having the full weight of the garment will help with the position of the sleeves as they will be worn. I don’t know if that’s true, but it sounds reasonable to me.

Hopefully, I’ll remember to take some photos this time so you can see how the Regency long stays look when I’m wearing them.

Let’s just say they do their job quite well (as in I feel like two large appetizers being served on a platter). And that will take some getting used to.

Your Weekend Wow!

We are in our first real blast of arctic air for the season with highs in the 40’s and lows in the 20’s. Just a few days ago it was highs in the 50’s-60’s and lows in the 50’s-40’s so the chill is noticeable.

My stubborn cold is hanging on so I’m getting chills anyway. And every time I go outside – it was 27 (F) last night when I took Sophie out for her bedtime stroll – I yearn for layers of winter warmth. The old-fashioned way looks pretty cozy…

Brrrrrr! I gotta get me some wool…

A Quick Round Gown Update

close-up of Round Gown fabric

close-up of Round Gown fabric

Kleenex Expressions Oval CollectionThis cold is beginning to release it’s grip a bit, so I’m planning on sewing and seam ripping today. Amongst doing the laundry and whatnot, that is. The house I’m renting is up for sale. A potential buyer is coming for a walk-through on Thursday afternoon and there’s a lot of “whatnot” that still needs doing. This cold is not helping. (Do they ever?)

I discovered why my skirt looks so wimpy when I read the directions this morning – it was supposed to be a 3- to 4-yd length with a single back seam so that the selvage edges of the fabric are at the top and bottom edges of the skirt. I’d missed that part because I got there late.

I don’t feel so bad about it, though, because that won’t work for my decidedly one-way print fabric. So I’m doing it in panels and that’s just the way it is. Fortunately, I have enough to make a third panel, which will give me more than three yards of circumference to work with. There may be seams, but at least the volume will be correct. Thank goodness for that.

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The cold has me pretty well sapped of energy but I want the bodice finished tonight – all I need to do is stitch down the casing for the drawstring – unless I collapse first, and pick open the skirt’s side French seam. Happily, it’s all sit-on-the-sofa work which pits me in close proximity to the trifecta of relief for the common cold: tissues, TV and hot tea.

All in all, not so bad.