HSM #6 – Easily Out of My Comfort Zone

The HSM Challenge for June is “Out of Your Comfort Zone” Create a garment from a time period you haven’t done before, or that uses a new skill or technique that you’ve never tried before.

This one is a no-brainer for me (sadly, that’s likely all too true) since I have limited experience creating garments from any time period before the 1960’s. Deciding what to make has been a challenge in and of itself – everywhere I look there’s something I’ve never tried before. I’m overly spoilt for choice.

However, this year I’m trying to make smarter choices for my HSM Challenge projects and pair them with things I’ll want for upcoming events. Two birds, one feebly thrown stone.

There are three events that I would like to attend in period dress:

July 12th: “The Romance of Roses.” It’s a private showing of a collection of vintage and antique fashions featuring rose colors, patterns and motifs. Guests are encouraged, but not required, to attend in period dress, anywhere from Victorian to 1950’s, that features roses or the color rose.

July 19th: “Seaside Get-away.” A Victorian-style picnic with a seaside theme.

August 8th: The SITU-Seattle Summer Event – “Dunnton Abbey Picnic” which will be held at a private estate for Downton-attired SITU members (period dress is not optional for this one).

I don’t have the time to make a dress for each event, but I think I can manage two if I don’t let enthusiasm get the better of me. So now it’s just a matter of mix and match.

Rose + Victorian seaside dress?

Rose + Edwardian summer dress?

Too bad I can’t get away with a rose Edwardian seaside dress…

I do have a bit of a cheat, though, and it’s become the deciding factor. Instead of having to make both dresses from scratch – i.e., copying an extant garment without a pattern to go on – I do have a pretty-darned-close pattern for one. It needs a few changes to make it more period-correct, but nothing too drastic. This will be my Victorian Seaside Dress, with fabric colors subject to change. (The pattern photo is from eBay. I do not wear a 6-8-10 anymore. Sigh.)

So, that leaves making a rose-inspired Edwardian summer/picnic/garden/tea dress. As much as I’d love to do a really frou-frou dress, I don’t have the time or the skills (yet) to pull it off as well as I want to. And, for comfort’s sake, I’m foregoing hobbled skirts, high collars and S-bend corsets. But that still leaves me with some very nice styles from which to choose.

And since the rose-inspired event is coming up first, this is the one getting tagged for HSM #6. I’ve never made an Edwardian-era dress before. I’ll have to cobble together pattern pieces and learn a bit about draping. I have some beautiful rose and off-white stripe fabric ready to go. Guess it’s time to choose a dress.

This one would be relatively easy to figure out and it obviously works with vertical stripes. But would I look too dumpy in it?

Day dress, circa 1910.

I love the center dress, but not too sure about the layers of ruffle draped over the hips – camouflage or “hey, look at this!”?

1910's Day dresses - lamp shade or tunic styles. An elongated top over a tight skirt. Large hat. Note the change from Gibson Girl fashion at the turn of the century. Art Nouveau slim, trailing gowns are coming in.

I like this style because it looks comfortable for warm weather, should that ever happen up here, but I’m not sure how the stripes would look.

Instead of lace, I think I’d like to use a solid rose-pink for the trim at the neck and sleeves and for the pleated underskirt. Might try draping the dress form to see what happens visually…could be interesting or a total headache. Only one way to find out…

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