Sunday, 16 November 2014

Southern Belle dress diary - part 6

Final steps:

Friday, and I flew up to Brisbane around lunchtime. This meant leaving the house at 8am in order to trek to the airport in time to ensure I got my flight. Since 9/11 airport security has theoretically been more stringent, but I managed to get my sewing kit (sans scissors) on board so I was able to work on small bits during the two hour flight.

I had thoughtfully prepared for the flight by sewing up some strips of the blue silk stuff. I didn't really have any clear concept about what I wanted to achieve with them so I bundled them, some pearls and some lace into my handbag and figured I'll work it out on the flight. Work it out I did! I decided to make some rosettes which I could then use to embellish the dress. (Go here for a quick and dirty how to). The rosettes were the last things added to the dress. Originally they were going to be placed along the blue trim helping distract from any potential lumpiness. The problem with this was that I'd have to put on the corset and the dress in order to get the placement of the 8 rosettes right. I really didn't want them on the peaks of my breasts because they stick out enough already thanks to the corset. Given they were sewed on around 1am on Saturday morning, I placed them at the base of the strips and at strategic places along the waistline. I didn't get time to make the sash I wanted so these rosettes helped tie the dark ruffle to the trim along the bodice.

On the subject of trim, this was started on Friday evening while sitting around with Tamar and Sophie. I started by carefully sewing along one edge of the trim so it sat flush with the lace. About halfway along Sophie pointed out that if I used a running stitch down the center and embellished it with pearls it'd hold the trim down, look great AND save me a bunch of time. She's so smart! So I did as she suggested and I'm quite happy with the result.

I added pearls in the center of the rosettes as well to give them more depth. The blue trim ran next to the piping which terminated in the upper sleeve zone. I decided to run the lace and the trim along the top edge of the sleeve as I wouldn't get time to sew a sleeve on and I needed to clean up the edge. Rather than running the trim down the back of the dress I decided to terminate it at the shoulder blade where the back piping started. I gathered the spare trim in and created rosettes around the final pearl. It gives it a little extra something and ties to the rosette at the bottom of the piping. As a last minute idea I'm really quite pleased with how it turned out!

To complete the outfit I wore my elbow length cream gloves, a pearl necklace and pearl earrings. I used ideas from this youtube Southern Belle hair style tutorial and put my curled up hair through a doughnut which I then covered with the strands. I then wrapped two side plaits around the bun and tied the curls off on one side with leftover blue trim. I used one of the leftover rosettes to pin a random curl on the other side and borrowed a pearl pin from Tamar to hold it down. Below is a picture taken by Leisel of Tamar and I. Tamar is also wearing a corset under her lovely card-dealers outfit.

Once I got to the party, someone mentioned there actually was a date on the newsletter we were sent - Octber 20, 1874. Well, I missed the dress date by about 15 years and the whole bell shape -> bustle thing as well. I did get the biggest compliment from Carolyn though. I've always admired her SCA garb and I know she does Victorian costuming as well. She had posted an image of her petticoat while I was wrestling with the tulle, and it was lovely! She said I looked like I was wearing my great grandmothers dress and she even knew it was 1860's! In my head - "NAILED IT!".

Things I might still do:
Remove rosettes and reposition
Make tie shaped sash
Lace along ruffle to stop it being such a solid block of colour (it's sort of lost in the gloom at my feet)
Sleeves, possibly puffed, possibly with lace or pearl trim.

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