Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Historical Sew Fortnightly Challenge #1 Make Do and Mend

The Challenge:  Make Do and Mend
Fabric:  Silk Dupioni and Taffeta
Pattern:  Butterick B4698 Making History Designed by Rachel Wallis
Year:  1872
Notions:  6 yards 2-1/2" lace, 6 yards trim, 3 yards ribbon for waistband
How historically correct is it?:  Based on fashion plates and period photographs, I believe this collar would have been used as an alternate to extend the use of a gown.
Hours to complete?:  4 to 6 hours depending on whether the wide lace is pre-gathered or it requires self gathering or pleating as was done for this challenge.
First worn:  Planned for a spring dinner party.
Total Cost:  Part of this challenge was my personal challenge to "Make Do" with what was available and therefore there was no additional cost except thread.  Everything was left over from the original ball gown construction or other projects.

Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.
                                                  Theodore Roosevelt

This project started with a ball gown completed in December 2013.  It was for a Reconciliation Ball and the colors were blue and gray representing the colors of the armies of the North and South during the Civil War.  The amount of material required for the pleating meant that there was little left to make another bodice to extend the wear of the gown to other events.

The bodice bertha is constructed so that it slips over the head and ties to the bodice.  That gave some options for adding lace and trims to the bodice for a different look but it is still only suitable for a ball gown due to the off-the-shoulder style.

The book Victorian Costumes for Ladies 1860 - 1900 by Linda Setnik is actual photographs and a great historical resource.  This gown looked like it was a ball gown and the description says that a chemisette has been added.  There are cap sleeves and it appears that long sleeves could have also been added.


This Butterick pattern View B seemed to offer a way to Make Do with the remaining fabrics and bring added use to the ball gown.

So I gathered my small supply of leftover fabric and cut the pieces...
flatlined the front panels, the back, and the collar with muslin, and box-pleated lace for all edges.

There were several choices of trim in my little stash and I posted the photos on facebook and let my friends choose.  Dusty pink, navy/gray, white with blue roses, and white gimp.

And the winner is.....  the navy/gray!   And here is the finished collar over the ball gown bodice and the skirt with the pansy ribbon flowers.

While this gown is suitable for another ball it could easily be used for an opera gown, or a dinner gown (which is my plan!).  Here is the gown without the ribbon flowers.
Just as we try to mix and match and extend our wardrobes today, I believe Victorian ladies were creative and learned to Make Do when they ran out of fabric, when gowns were passed to sisters and cousins, and when a special gown needed a facelift.

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