Saturday, March 30, 2013

Simplicity's Panniers (or, make your own tent)

Simplicity 3635 is the companion undergarment pattern for the robe à la Française dress. Just a warning: they are big. If you plan to maneuver through tight spaces, these may not be the support structure you are looking for. While they are flexible, they are also wide.

Taken in front of my closet: the panniers
are almost blocking both of the folding doors.

The dress form doesn't hold the panniers up as well as actual human hips. I do have a goal to become a better costume photographer. But posts without photos aren't ideal for a visual learner like me.

TIME: This project took me approximately 10 hours. I wasn't expecting it to take so long, but as I got into it, I decided to finish my seams. I cannot explain what made me think this was a good idea. But it certainly added to my overall time total.

Gaze upon my not so lovely finished seams.
And know it was madness that I suffered.

ALTERATIONS: I couldn't find any 1/2 inch wide boning that the pattern called for. If anyone knows where to get some, please let me know. I used 7/16" wide hoop boning from Corset Making. It was what I could find and it worked, but I *think* the 1/2 inch stuff would have worked better (it might be what has caused the scrunching around the boning). Originally I had planned to make it so I could remove the bones for washing (if something can get stained, I will stain it). But at the draping party, we discovered that the bones were slipping on one hip, which made the hem line 2 inches higher on one side than the other. NOT GOOD. I went back and sealed the seams shut, and will most likely just hand wash this in the tub if it needs it.

It seems to me that you should plan a way to trim over where the bottom bone is on your fashion petticoat. It may have been that my fashion fabric was very thin, but the bone line was slightly visible (at least to me) until I placed my trim on. Something like that drives me a little bonkers.

EASE OF INSTRUCTIONS: I don't have any notes written down of steps that caused me any real trouble. The pieces are pretty basic shapes, which helps. Laying the casing for the boning was a bit of an event, but lots of pins and markings make it possible.

STORAGE IDEA: These things are big. And my space is limited. So a plan to store this garment was necessary. I saw a photo of someone who uses these as a lamp shade (when not being worn) which was pretty neat, but not possible for me. My solution was to get a long garment bag (not the suit ones, they're too short), and store the collapsed panniers in the bag. Now they're only as wide as the bag allows. And no opening unexpectedly.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Simplicity's Robe à la Française

Wow! The 2013 Francaise Dinner party has come and gone! Within it's very short history, it has become one of my favorite events.

This year I was a co-host, and I really wanted to sew for it. I faced a lot of challenges including:
- feeling totally incapable of choosing a fabric
- having to make the supportive undergarments as well as the dress
- deciding I wanted to make my husband a costume for the event
-  not really starting to sew until the end of January, knowing full well the event was at the beginning of March
- managing the details of the event
- working a full time job

The patterns I used were Simplicity 3637 and 3635. These particular patterns don't seem to be in print anymore but can still be found on ebay and etsy. I picked them up when Joann's was having a 5 for $5 sale.

I will admit I am afraid of more historically correct patterns. I'm terrified that I'll buy one and the directions will read something along the lines of: (1) cut out fabric (2) sew together (3) wear. As my first ever Robe à la Française (I feel the *need* to type the name fancy like that) I thought Simplicity was right up my alley.

So here she is, in all her wrinkled glory (the dress may or may have not been living as a heap on my floor for some time):

It doesn't fit so well on my dress form (apparently her right boob is bigger than her left...) and I'm a little taller, but it's impossible to take a self portrait in this, and I managed to get no really good shot of me the whole evening.

The more down and dirty about the dress behind the jump.

Monday, March 11, 2013

2013 Francaise Dinner Party

It is so hard to believe it, but the Francaise Dinner party has come and gone! I cannot get over how absolutely wonderful everyone looked. Why must these things end? Stupid reality.

This year was the second year we held the dinner, but we moved to the General Warren Inne. I cannot express how thrilled I was with them. The atmosphere was ideal, the food was divine, and the staff! Not only highly helpful and professional, but they were so interested in the event and the fashions. I can only hope we have lured more people into the world of dress up. Even the rooms many of us rented for the evening were perfect.

I was able to finish both my costume and my husband's, and there will be a write up of the time it took to compelte each. Two costumes in (approximately) less than two months was extremely difficult.

I fear I have to become a better photographer at events, because a great many of my photos turned out terribe. But here is the group shot!