Friday, February 6, 2015

HSM February: thinking about the color blue

The challenge for February is the color Azure. Blue is my favorite color and I am so excited by this challenge and immediately wanted to make a new dress in my favorite color.  However, when I was going through my stuff to decide what to make, I found an old dress that has been relegated to the back of the closet due to some fairly minor issues, and this dress is blue.  This dress was made after one of my favorite paintings of all time.

I found this painting while wandering around on the amazing Realm of Venus site.  I actually used this painting as my inspiration for my 2011 entry in the Italian Renaissance Costume Challenge (now in it's 5th year).  However there were a few things I really disliked about my dress and these have prevented me from wearing it.  In fact, I have only worn this dress once for only a few hours and  about an hour for pictures. Here are my original images of the dress.  I feel this dress looks reasonably nice from 5 feet away, but some of the details make me unhappy. 

Problem number 1, the bodice:  I tried a new method of lacing this dress. I had previously used Jen Thompson's of Festive Attyre ladder lacing method (which I dont think is currently available on her site). Jen's method worked wonderfully, but there was some discussion at the time if rings or some other method might be more historically correct.  So I tried rings.  There are rings on each side of the bodice and the lacing is ladder lacing in 2 directions.  I hate that the rings caused buckling and I hate that the ribbon shows running vertically between the rings.  I am not sure what I will do to fix this but I need to fix it or I will never be happy wearing this dress.

Problem number 2, the sleeves:  This is actually a set of problems.  First, I love the sleeves but my guess at construction leaves something to be desired.  I have done cut outs like the sleeves only 2 times.  The first time was on a attempt at a replica of the costume worn by the evil stepmother in Sleepy Hallow. This dress was made with modern synthetic velvet.  To make the cut outs in the velvet, I drew the design in fray check on the back of the fabric and then carefully cut the design out.  This worked beautifully and the design was easy to stitch to the base fabric on the bodice.  The fray check left the edges sealed enough that the stitching did not need to be super close together and could be very close to the edge since the fray check sealed the edges of the cut so well.

However, the fabric for the Venetian gown is 100% cotton velveteen. The fray check stained the heck out of this fabric and I needed a different method to stabilize the designs.  I decided to use wonderunder since it would let me iron the design on to the sleeves and then hand stitch to stabilize.  I tried to take tiny stitches close to the edge of the design to keep the stitching invisible and spaced the stitching out similar to the Sleepy Hallow bodice.  Unfortunately, the wonderunder is far less stabilizing and the velvet started fraying on my first wearing.  I need to go back and hand stitch with larger stitches and much closer together.  Also, I don't like the lace at the cuffs.  This was the best lace I could find at the time, but I think it looks terrible and I want to replace it.  Finally, I don't like the sleeve head treatment.  Since you cannot see the sleeve head treatment on the inspiration portrait, I wandered around the Realm of Venus site to look at other treatments.  The white puffs with buttons seems fairly common, but my execution leaves much to be desired.  The white puffs are made of too heavy of fabric and the ribbon was not substantial enough to stabilize the heavy metal buttons.  I think the final sleeve head treatment just looks floppy.  I hope to redo the handstitching to better stabilize the velveteen, add new lace and fix up the sleeve heads to better fit my vision.

I am still waffling on making something completely new, but I would really love to get this dress to the point where I could actually enjoy wearing it.   

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