19th century, 19th century clothing, Clothing, fashion, Federal style, morning dress, museum collections, patterns, sewing
I promised you something, didn’t I, the last time I wrote?
Well, set your skepticism aside for the cat, because here’s the scoop on the messy process of getting from page to pattern to garment.
I started with the pattern from the book, which furrowed my brow a few times until I became accustomed to the style. Everyone drafts and scales patterns a little differently; it’s like getting used to local idioms. (It’s a bubbla, here, not a water fountain and not a drinking fountain. Go figure.)
But I digress. It seemed pretty simple, especially since I have some experience scaling things up, both from Sharon Burston on taking a pattern from an original garment (plot your points like an archaeologist) and from architecture school (redraw Le Corbusier’s maison from these two tiny drawings, draft an axonometric, and make a model). With Corbu behind me, you’d think this would be a piece o’ cake.
Delightfully, you would be wrong. Creative swearing, brow furrowing, and endless distractions (yes, some 28mm 17th century soldiers will be wearing Timberlands) provided the usual soundtrack and experience. Challenging, not easy, which means I hope I might actually have learned something.
Kind of a mess, right? Here’s what I did: I scaled up the pattern in the book once I’d figured out that the measurements were, incredibly, just about what I make my Federal-era dress pieces. I used the newsprint ads that come in the mail because they are abundant and free. That’s more challenging than gridded or plain paper, but free is free. With a ruler and a pencil, you can make your own grid.
After the paper patterns were drafted, I checked them against the drawings in the book, and made free hand corrections. I’ve learned that my eye is sometimes better than my math whether I am hanging paintings or making patterns.
From the tweaked newsprint pieces, I cut muslins to stitch up and try on over my stays. You MUST fit over the proper undergarments, or the exercise is pointless. These resulted in some additional tweaks and alterations accomplished at first with pins, a Sharpie, and Drunk Tailor’s patient assistance.
What then? Another round with some adjusted pieces to yield another muslin. It’s from that final fitting muslin that I transfer changes to the newsprint and then, finally, to craft paper. I was ably assisted once again by the Most Dangerous Cat in the World.
That’s what you’re left with: scraps, a muslin that’s true, and the pieces to make it. But have I made real progress on real fabric? Of course! But that’s another post.
Mackenzie Anderson Sholtz said:
You are a brave soul. I drafted and scaled this pattern for the catalogue. There are quite a few head scratcher odd bits about this wonderful dress that occur since it has been reworked at least twice to get to its current configuration….would you be happy to know that the original is about a size 10 and I am currently working publishing the graded full scale pattern, hopefully by June? Feel free to email me with construction questions…I am happy to help.
Well….. thanks for calling me brave! 😉
I did note you’d drafted and scaled this for the catalog, and it IS quite the thing, isn’t it? I chose not to recreate it with the alterations, and in the end, I think it will be homage than replica. Good to know a pattern is forthcoming– it’d be a hoot to get and compare to my riff on your work. I’m a tall 10/12 so this was really excitingly close for me.
Once I get back to this (another maniacal project is due in a week!) I’ll post progress past the bodice; that’s as far as I’ve made it to date.
thanks for reading and commenting!
Mackenzie Anderson Sholtz said:
I’ll be on the look out for your updates! Happy Sewing.