Every now and then, by which I mean quite regularly, I lose my mind and agree to participate in something that I know little about (tallow candles? hadn’t dipped a candle in decades), haven’t really got time for (Saratoga coats, though I managed one in a week), or feel woefully unprepared for (my life in general). This is either madness or a form of life-long learning.
When the lovely Mrs B proposed the group Sacque-a-palooza, I said, “Sure! What fun!” and meant it, too. (We nearly went to an 18th century party last year, but it was snowed out. We would have had to wear our tenant farmers’ clothes, and we would have been embarrassed.) A sacque with a venue? What’s not to like? (For sacques-piration, which is different from what you do while dancing in a fancy silk gown, I’ve started a Pinterest Board.)
What was not to like at first was the yardage requirement: 10+ yards, and I really can’t skimp because of my height. I looked and did not find enough silk (though that didn’t stop me from picking up 7 yards of lovely pinky-lavender taffeta, because you never know when you’ll need to become a Ralph Earl painting). But, I got an afternoon when I could leave work early, and Sew 18th Century and I headed up to Boston to hit the fabric store before descending upon Mr and Mrs B. We did quite well and I like to think we were rawther restrained, considering the table of tropical weight wools at $2.99/yard…thank goodness there wasn’t enough of a grey cross-bar to make a gown for me! Despite my initial dithering, Sew 18th Century talked me into a cross-bar silk taffeta after we confirmed a very similar extant example.
Mrs B is a patient teacher, and helped guide us through the beginning construction steps. This was fortunate for me, because I’m not sure I was qualified to open an envelope last night, let alone pleat silk. Making a gown under tutelage is a far different and far better experience than wrangling fabric yourself on the back of a recalcitrant and unyielding dress form.
This morning, though I am a trifle bleary-eyed since the tsunami of What Cheer Day finally hit me on Thursday, I am in proud possession of a back lining and a pinned back ready to have the pleats sewn to the lining. That is quite good for a few hours work among congenial company.
I also learned a new mantra, which will be good for me, and a change from wielding the center-finding ruler: Done is better than perfect.
Nancy N said:
Hahaha! That last really tickled me–I studied with a costumer who used to ask “Is it done? It’s perfect!” Great project idea! And I love the fabric you chose!
What fabric store in Boston do you like? When I lived in RI there was a lovely older woman who had a little store with great stuff in Cranston, but that was 30 years ago and if she’s still alive Im sure she’s retired.
Can’t wait to see the progress,
I remember that store in Cranston! I used to take the bus down from Providence when I was in school, and bought fabric for a dress there.
We went to Sewfisticated in Somerville, http://sewfisticated.com/somerville-ma-store/, but I did well at the branch on Framingham as well. That store provided the fabric from Mrs Smith’s open robe and Mr Mason’s banyan. With silks for $5.99 and up, it’s hard to resist…
Nancy N said:
Wow! 5.99 for silk is hard to beat! I live 2 blocks from the garment center in NY now, and Id be hard pressed to find anything that nice so cheaply! Yeah,that woman’s name was Rose something… She helped me replace some antique lace in an 1890s bodice once. A wonderful seamstress, who’d managed to live thru the concentration camps. I’m sorry I lost touch with her over the years–too young to know what a valuable friend she was!
I ADORE the way the Mrs Smith ensemble turned out. You looked so great, as does the whole family “album” there on the steps. Great work, and I hope I get to see it next year!
Andrew F. said:
I love that fabric store. I’ve gotten some good worsteds there, and I knew as soon as I saw that silk where you had gotten it. I think they also have some good wool/nylon blend melton if you’re looking for an overcoat in the future.
Anna Worden Bauersmith said:
I’ve caught myself looking at sacque-back dresses a bit too often lately. How tempting one is. Though, I have no clue when or where I would wear it.
I’m also thuroughly jealous of everyone who lives within a reasonable distance of fabric outlets.
I was pretty happy to be tipped off about the fabric stores. We have a discount place locally, but some of the fabrics are just too odd and too suspicious in their fibre content to be used for historic clothing or costuming. I had a number of places I went when we lived in St. Louis, but it has taken a longtime to find substitutes, so I know the feeling.
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