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Author Topic: Introduction and advice needed  (Read 10516 times)
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Andy Barnett
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« on: May 11, 2015, 06:25:49 PM »

Hello sewing academics,
Thank you all.  I have learned some much from this forum.  My family volunteers at a living history park here in Minnesota.  We do a late 1880s impression, but finding no comparable level of online discussion of that period, I often come here, get ideas for what kind of sources to look for and look for comparable sources in our era.  Plus you all are an inspiration for maintaining high standards even if the forum dates are a little earlier.

My daughter and I decided that we couldn't pass up the fact that Home Sweet Home was going to be practically in our backyard at Fort Snelling, so we are gearing up for an 1865 impression.  And now we can participate in the discussions here in earnest.

Now for the advice.  I am making a dress for 12 year old Frances using Mrs. Clark's patterns and fabric recommended by Reproductions Fabrics.  Now that it is mostly assembled it seems a little "off".  I think I should have added at least a half a panel more to the skirt.  The pattern seems a little out of scale.  I remembered reading here that pleats and tucks were often used to accent certain features in a plaid fabric, but I might have gone overboard.  Hopefully the photo links work and you all can help my decide whether this can be fixed and if not what I should do better next time.

Yours,

Andy Barnett




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Paula
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« Reply #1 on: May 12, 2015, 06:41:06 AM »

Hi Andy
Welcome to the forum.  I'll wait for some others to comment on the fabric choice.  The skirt does look rather narrow.  I tend to aim for a circumference of 120" for my pre-teen girls.  However what I think is throwing it off the most is the lack of petticoats or a cage.  It is quite amazing what a couple of starched petticoats will do to make the look. A cage would also have been common for a 12 year old.
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Elizabeth
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« Reply #2 on: May 12, 2015, 08:58:49 AM »

Welcome Aboard!

I agree with Paula on skirt supports. Cheesy

The other thing that I think may be throwing off your look is precisely the thing that I tend to crave, myself: very precise pattern matching! Because you've so splendidly pleated out elements of the print, there are solid blocks that end up looking... blocky.

For the bodice, letting the pleats fall in different, non-precisely-matched spots or with small gaps so the rest of the print is visible, would help. Ditto with the pleats in the skirts--off-setting the gaps between by a half-inch of so will help reveal the rest of the print in that area, just a bit.

I like the sleeves cut on the bias--that's a great look, and you've done it well! You have the option of shortening that sleeve just a bit--perhaps 1.5 to 2", to take it up to mid-bicep, and with skirt support/fullness, those two elements will really come together.

Does that help a bit? She's a lovely creature!
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Regards,
Elizabeth
Andy Barnett
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« Reply #3 on: May 12, 2015, 11:19:06 AM »

Thanks all,
We didn't take the time to put on all the layers to snap these photos, but I will do that and see if it helps before deciding about adding a panel to the skirts. 
And I'll look at taking out the bodice pleats. 
Should there be fewer, larger tucks in the skirt as well?  It seems like that is what I've seen.  It's funny what you start to notice after you've done something else.

What else, besides underpinnings, do we need to be thinking about--collar, headwear, hairstyling? 

Yours,
Andy
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Elizabeth
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« Reply #4 on: May 12, 2015, 11:27:15 AM »

The tuck depth on the skirts looks fine... if you space them at least 1/2" apart you'll get a less blocked looked.

Hairstyling can be as simple as two three-strand braids (regular ones) that start behind her ears. She can pin them up out of the way, or leave them hanging down her back. A sunbonnet will be useful to her at Home Sweet Home--MEGA SUN EDITION. Cheesy

A collar is a nice touch; it can be either a basted in light frill of whitework, or else a collar that lays out over the bodice, and she's also fine without a collar at all--you'll see all three in original images.
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Elizabeth
Maggie Koenig
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« Reply #5 on: May 12, 2015, 02:44:42 PM »

All of the pleating out an elements make the dress look like its made of several different fabrics.  It looks "old timey mismatched" vs. planned period style element to my eye.
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Maggie Koenig
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Heidi Hollister
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« Reply #6 on: June 14, 2015, 03:17:51 AM »

I'm going to echo Maggie's comment.  You've done SUCH an excellent job of pleating and things that the dress reads 1980s cute mismatchy, when really it is not at all.  I think for my own choice with this fabric I'd try doing a gather instead of pleats, or make the pleats smaller so that it reads as the same material.  In many situations it's great to make it read like different fabric, but I think in this case maybe not.

It looks like it fits her well in length and width, so well done there!  Add a pinnafore to the mix.  SO much easier to clean and change at an event than a whole dress.

I don't know how many panels you put in her skirt, but I normally give my 4 year old daughter 2 panels to make 90 inches plus or minus so that it looks nice and full when her skirt supports are on.

I look forward to meeting you and your daughter at Home Sweet Home!
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Andy Barnett
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« Reply #7 on: August 04, 2015, 08:05:19 AM »

I thought I should follow up the original post and share how the remaking of the dress turned out.  As suggested, I added a third 45" panel to the skirt with two large tucks rather than four small ones.  Remade the bodice with gathers and reset the sleeves. We added a corded bonnet in a lightweight linen, a white linen collar and a dark blue silk bow at the neck.  She is wearing it in the photos below with complete undergarments and two petticoats.  We could add one more, but I worry about the weight/heat for August.  Heidi, I will work on a pinafore, but I was unsure how much they would have been worn by an older girl at a nicer, public occasion.

I appreciate all of the suggestions.  I think she looks great. Here's a few photos of me and her (and the little sister in her dress for 1889)





« Last Edit: August 04, 2015, 09:01:04 AM by Andy Barnett » Logged
Stephanie Brennan
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« Reply #8 on: August 04, 2015, 09:57:20 AM »

She does look great!  It is amazing how the same fabric can look so different by just switching a few tucks and pleats.
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Maggie Koenig
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« Reply #9 on: August 04, 2015, 11:43:36 AM »

Much better!!  I applaud you for doing all that work to redo things.
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Maggie Koenig
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Carolann Schmitt
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« Reply #10 on: August 04, 2015, 01:08:06 PM »

You all look fantastic, and the revisions to the dress are mind-boggling! Kudos to you for using making the effort and using period techniques to make the transformation to a wonderful dress.  Smiley

Regards,
Carolann
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Carolann Schmitt - Only a historian understands how much you need to know in order to recognize how much you don't know. - Elizabeth Ann Coleman
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« Reply #11 on: August 04, 2015, 02:43:11 PM »

Lookin' good!
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Heidi Hollister
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« Reply #12 on: August 05, 2015, 12:28:47 PM »

Great job!  Pinafores can be fancy or utilitarian depending on their style and material.  Up to you what you're going for.
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Elizabeth
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« Reply #13 on: August 06, 2015, 09:33:38 PM »

Great upgrades on the style! Your perseverance pays off. Cheesy
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Elizabeth
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