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November 14th, 2010

04:00 pm - A very light pair of stays circa 1800
I plan to make a set of short stays based on this extant garment in the Abiti Antichi gallery. (Image is a link.)

Google translate has this to say about them (original description in Italian):
Bust short brown silk taffeta lining in ivory silk taffeta. The straps in brown silk taffeta, are lined with ecru canvas' and end with a final part in ivory goatskin.

The front part, closed by lacing (string original), and stiffened by thin horizontal and parallel brass springs inserted between fabric and lining.

Ref: bust 36

I don't know whether I will use 1/4" spring steels or simply cord the whole fronts. I've never heard of small brass springs used as stiffener, and I wouldn't begin to know where to find them. It appears there's a small decorative herringbone stitch outlining the back. I'm quite taken with how simple the style is - no gussets, minimal shaping.

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August 23rd, 2010

06:25 pm
All images are clickable thumbnails.


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October 14th, 2009

06:09 pm - Regency planning
Though I didn't make it to the arboretum walk, ORS has a few more events this year, most of which I want to go to.

Things I need in general, the underwear is mandatory for every following list:

- A new shift would be nice. I think the old one is still useful, but probably under earlier clothes. The gathered neckline isn't as good for Regency.
- I need to figure out whether the stays I made will give a nice shape. If they will, fantastic. If not, I should sell them off to someone else and make a new set.
- Also, for day wear short stays would be nice.
- A new bodiced petticoat would be good. The skirt needs to be at least 100 inches. If it's going to be corded, there should be at least six inches of closely spaced cords.
- At least one reticule
- At least one hat
- At least one bonnet
- Cap

There's talk of caroling some time in December. For that, I'd need some very warm clothes. Probably:

- Wool stockings (purchased)
- Flannel pantalets
- Flannel petticoat
- Wool dress - high neck, with a white cotton collar and white cotton cuffs
- Wool cloak
- Possibly also a spencer or pelisse
- Bonnet
- Gloves

There's a winter ball on Dec. 5

- Dress. Remake the one from the last dance? I think I'd rather something like a gold taffeta or deep red velvet. Velvet doesn't sound half bad, actually. It's just a bit more winter.
- Sort out the shoe difficulty (or not, since they actually worked quite well last dance.
- Definitely a reticule, probably a fan
- Cloak (may be same as above)

Twelfth Night

- Red velvet, as above. I don't know what else I'm likely to want, but I suspect that'll keep me going most of the rest of the year.

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September 20th, 2009

07:29 pm - Patterns for the bodiced petticoat and the white gauze dress
Each of these will link to a larger version. I have even larger scans, which I'll email to you if you really want. The scale of the graph paper is 1/4".

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Last but not least, here are my intended alterations to the bodiced petticoat pattern. I just printed off the pictures and started scribbling.

I tried out a couple of SB seam lines but none of them made as much sense as the really simple one. The only thing I'm not quite solid on is whether to alter the front like that. I admit, I really like the curve just the way it is, but I had trouble with the corners showing under the neckline of my gown. We'll see. I also may not drop the back quite so far down.

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02:47 am - Regency Shift and Bodiced Petticoat, PHOTOS! edition
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September 5th, 2009

05:10 pm
Okay, so. A lot of sewing happened very fast. Also, a picture!Collapse )

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01:29 am - Message from Action Man: I've danced all I needed to dance; sordid details following
I had a post but it was pretty incoherent, and then safari choked on a webpage and I lost it. Short story brief, I finished the dress, got a lot of compliments on it, tore out the hem but only mildly and right at the end (and I was going to put it back in differently anyway), tore out the side waist but it's fine, all I have to do is put the stitching back in, need to redo the straps, sleeves, and underclothes (again, no surprise), and danced my feet off. I need a fan.

English country dance is all about repeating patterns and is delightful. I commented to my last partner that it was like Memory (the animated zefrank version, if you care) - I can do fantastically well the first time, and poorly indeed the second, and she said "you're a patterns person" and it was like yeah. I hadn't ever thought of it quite that way but it's completely true. So I can't specifically remember any of the dances, even though I had the first two or so down pretty pat and if I hadn't done all the others I'd probably still remember them.

I promise you, pictures soon.

Also, a longer, technical post tomorrow or Sunday, when I can brain about sewing again.

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September 4th, 2009

11:07 am
I need a list. List list list.

- press hem (done)
- sew hem (done)
- shoulder straps (done)
- back casing (done)
- gather underbust and lower back (done, I hope)
- fit with twill tape waistband
- (that would work! that probably works better! Ahahahahah I am a genius! I'll tell you all about it later)
- stitch bodice to waistband
- stitch skirt to waistband
- cut sleeves
- sew underarm seam
- gather sleeves
- baste sleeves in

Okay? Okay.

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03:31 am
First try on:
- straps need to be much, much longer
- Back has no gather whatsoever as it stands. I will use the current back as a lining and put on a wider one over it. I think. If that works the way I think it does.
- Actually, this fabric is just too sheer to use as a single layer in the bodice. I'm going to add another layer of side, too, but I can cut those out of the original shoulder straps.

I just changed my old needle for a new one, which doesn't have the nice curve I'd bent into the old one, but also doesn't have the dull point or rubbed off nickle plating which make sewing so difficult. Why didn't I do that days ago?!?

I simply cannot imagine sewing this fabric by machine. I know I've done it before, but I don't know what I could possibly have been thinking. It is way too light to possibly play nicely with tension and feed dogs. Handsewing it is the only thing that makes sense.

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01:36 am
I've been sewing all day (all day) finishing the petticoat and most of the gauze skirt. When I finished that, I started drafting up the bodice.

The skirt is made from two 50 inch lengths of white gauze. The fabric is 60 inches wide, so the whole skirt will be 120 inches. Perhaps a bit big for the period, but I think it'll give it a really nice drape. I stitched the side seams, then picked one panel at random, found the center, and ripped a slash down for the opening. I pressed back a scant quarter inch on both sides, then folded that over and did a running stitch down. The result is a very narrow, unlikely to rip out, edge. At the bottom, where I couldn't fold over the edge, I stitched over it a bunch and then did a buttonhole bar between the two sides so any tension shouldn't be a problem for the bottom of the slash. In retrospect, I am not convinced that this was the best thing to do. When I have a chance, I'll probably take that out and just whip the bottom of the slit up about an inch and a half.

Then I pressed over about an inch on the top, to give it a finished edge. I decided to gather up the entire back panel into the smallest space I could, and then I'll gather three-quarters of the front more gently around the sides. The very front will be smooth.

To draft the bodice, I started with the Tidens Toj bodice I used for the stays. I knew I wanted the back higher, a single side piece (to match the Costume in Detail dress) and a basically rectangular front. We'll see how well it works. Since it's gathered in front and back, it should work out pretty well no matter how badly the draft was. I'm a bit worried about the sleeve... Heh bleh. When I get home (going to a movie, which is good 'cos my eyes are going to start bleeding soon) I'll start on the bodice and hopefully come close to finishing it.

Looking at the pictures I took (still not on the computron, sorry), I think I want to redo the bodiced petticoat. Specifically, the back is way narrower than I realized. I'll put another (probably) one and a half or two inches in CB and take them out again in the side. The front is fine; nothing needs to move there, but the back is just too small. C'est la vie. I'll probably end up taking the skirt off, redoing the whole thing, and putting the skirt back on, since I just can't see a good way to keep the front, even though I really like how it came out. That will also necessitate changing the straps around, but that's the work of not very many minutes.

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September 2nd, 2009

06:29 pm - More pictureless regency undies
Well, I found my camera, so eventually y'all will have pictures. The card reader, however, is still AWOL.

Things I have done in the last few days:
- hemmed the petticoat skirt with a long backstitch
- cut the petticoat bodice, stitched it
- made some cord (more DMC 3 lucet) for the front opening
- stitched eyelets and tried it on
- made some more cord for the other side of the eyelet
- taken a bunch of pictures

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I still really don't know what to do with my hair, except put it under a turban. I might? be able to persuade rag curls, but probably not. I should probably go pick up a narrow barreled curling iron, but I kinda bet my hair won't like that either.

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August 29th, 2009

03:24 am - Bodiced petticoat
So, I was planning on wearing stays, because stays. And then I tried on the muslin of my dress bodice, and I was all woah! This is basically (1) perfectly fitting and (2) gives me a much better silhouette and period bustline than my stays (damnit). So I'm going to make a bodiced petticoat and gown rather than a lined gown, and I think that'll work out just great.

The bodice pattern came from Tidens Tøj (linky). I scaled up the lining pattern pretty verbatim, changed the side-back seam to a much harder curve for aesthetic reasons, added an inch total to the CB, and took out the side front and side seams because I like the look of the long front-side-side back pieces and I've seen it elsewhere in the period. Then I drew out the pieces in sharpie on some muslin, cut them out with wide seam allowances, and sewed up the seams. I left the shoulder straps (just scrap about the right size) loose in front and left the CF seam open. Against all expectation, the thing actually fits remarkably well. The CF will need a little alteration (when I locate my camera, I'll be posting tons of photos of this, I promise), and there's a very small dart that I pinned out in the front armscye but that I think I'll move to the underbust. I'm going to make those changes and figure out real shoulder straps, and then I'll try it on again.

In the meantime, I'm making a skirt for it. I used most of a skein of white DMC 3 perl cotton lucetting about 60 inches of cord, which I figured was enough for the hem of a petticoat. I may eventually come to change my mind about that, but for the moment it'll do. The heavier thread works up much faster than the DMC 8 perl cotton I've been using, which was nice. The cord is about 1/8" diameter when it's finished. I tore off a rectangle 50" x 60" from another sheet (this one, sadly, in poorer condition than the other; it's got a few pinholes here and there. Oh well) and pressed up a four inch hem along one long side. Into that I tucked and pinned the lucet cord and then handstitched it in, leaving a few inches at each end open so that I could sew up the seam and then finish the casing. That stitching went remarkably fast. I then stitched up the seam, pressed it open, and finished the cord casing. The top of the seam was left open so that it can act as a front opening for the petticoat (or back. I'm not quite decided, yet, where the lacing will be). The last thing to do before attaching the skirt will be to stitch the hem up. Perhaps, if there is time, I will also add some tucks. Probably not. I do intend to retain any extra length at the top edge for the eventuality that I might want to add tucks, though.

I'm still completely attached to this handsewing thing. Running stitch is incredibly fast when you've got a thimble and the right sized needle.

Oh, yes. I also made myself a thimble out of a very small scrap of leather. I used a binder clip to help figure out where to put the seam, sewed it up with a saddle stitch so it was a little bit too small, with the seam allowance to the outside. I then trimmed the seam allowance to a very scant 1/8", soaked it in water, and tugged it down over the finger as far as I could and then pressed it down regularly while it dried (I read a book). The result is a thimble that is almost perfectly formed for that particular finger, and stays on incredibly well. I've never liked using thimbles because usually my fingernail gets in the way of a comfortable fit, but this one has an open top. They also usually just never quite fit right, and I can't get the same leverage and pressure that I would with a bare finger (even though that also tears up the finger). This one has neither of those problems. Because it's leather and formed to my finger, I can get exactly the right angle on the butt of the needle, and I left the top open so my fingernail doesn't interfere with wearing it at all.

For the dress: I plan to do some sort of riff off the Costume in Detail dress on page I-didn't-scan-it-sorry. It's got (if you have the book to hand) three cords making decoration around the neck. They're spaced some 1/2" apart and are horizontal across the bust so it almost looks like an apron-front, go over the shoulders and across the back. Hopefully I was clever enough to copy the pages, so I've got them around somewhere. If not I'll have to pop back to the library and do that.

Left to do:

- hem petticoat, finish seam
- fit petticoat bodice, make up
- dress
- reticule?
- Almost certainly not shoes, alas, nor mitts
- Something to do with my hair. Probably a bandeau or turban sort of thing. Maybe a hot curler.

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August 27th, 2009

06:48 pm
Finished the shift. When I cut out the neck, it wasn't willing to stay on my shoulders anymore (with the bonus that the sleeves were much less tight), so I did a narrow turned hem over the shoulders and stitched in drawstrings and casings along the front and back. To do that, I pressed a narrow fold all the way around. Over the shoulders, I turned over the raw edge into the fold and pinned; it's perhaps 1/8" wide. On the front and back, I turned it one more time and tucked a bit of narrow twill tape into the fold. Around the curves I blended the difference. I just started stitching in one corner, tacking the ends of the tapes, stitching the edges of the casings (with a gap in the CF and CB to tie) and over the shoulders. I haven't bothered to hem it yet.

I'm going to have to do something about the bones in the stays. I actually busted one through the twill tape binding when I tried it all on. I clearly need a girl, since I tore it thrashing around trying to get all laced up. I'll probably just floss the ends, even if it's not particularly period. Neither are blue stays or steel bones.

For the dress, I'm have some white cotton gauze which should do for an overdress. I'll line it with some more sheet.

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August 21st, 2009

04:24 am
Whelp, as of tonight (this morning...) I've got all the gussets sewn and the seam allowances whipped, and one sleeve and a bit of that side sewn. On a whim I whacked out the smallest possible neck and tried it on. The shoulders are a bit wider than I might like, though we'll see how that comes out when I've cut down the neck further. The sleeve pulls down the side a bit far, so it may be awkward. I may end up whacking off the end of the sleeve completely, which would give it some more space and wouldn't take much effort at all. What's left is the other sleeve and both side seams, figuring out the neckline, hemming, and probably rehemming the sleeves.

The sleeve seam allowances I turned over once and stitched through. On the gussets, however, there was always at least one selvedge edge, which was woven somewhat stiffer and tighter. I considered turning and stitching those as well, but I think it would have been bulky and difficult to sew. Instead, I just loosely whipped the edges together. I plan to turn and stitch the shoulder SAs like the sleeves, and perhaps transition to whipped a little ways down.

Sewing on the sleeve, I started at the bottom of the gusset (leaving all SAs loose - don't start at the edge of the gusset) and sewed up, over the shoulder, and back down the other side. Then, because I was handstitching, I simply transitioned smoothly into the side seam. The end result is clean and lays very nicely, because none of the seam allowances are caught. On each of the three intersecting seams (gusset-back, gusset-front, and back-front), I took care to take several stitches in the same place, right at the corner, for strength. I did the same thing on the underarm seam.

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August 20th, 2009

02:50 am - September 4th ball - Regency shift
I'm hoping to get to the ball on Sept. 4. To that end:

- Shift
- Two more eyelets on stays
- Petticoat?
- Mock up dress (at least the bodice)
- Dress
- Shoes of some kind?
- Bandeaux
- Gloves would be spiffin' but are unlikely.

Today, after aeons of procrastinating, I got started on my shift. I used a pretty common style of pattern. The sleeves are the usual rectangle-with-gusset, and the body is cut as a rectangle with the shoulders on the fold. To provide shaping, the rectangle is cut a few (4-8) inches wider than the shoulders, and a triangle is removed from that distance to half the length. The removed triangles flip around and become gussets in the lower side seams. The shape when all's said and done but the side seams haven't been sewn yet is a sort of hour-glass shape, with the shoulders at the 'waist' of the hourglass. The top and bottom of the hourglass are the back and front hems. Make sense? I'll try to get a sketch and pictures up soon. Sadly, my camera is mysteriously not where I remember putting it when I moved, so peektures will have to wait. At the moment it's not all that exciting, anyway. I got all the pieces cut torn from a sheet:

2 sleeves, 15 x 6 inches
2 gussets, 5 inches square
1 body, width of queen-sized sheet by 25 inches

Then I folded the body in quarters, marked off my cutaway triangle, and cut them two at a time. When the triangles are cut away the narrow side is actually on the shoulder fold, so they aren't triangles at that point. Then you cut the fold, which becomes the bottom hem. The triangles began nine inches from the center (approximately 3-4 inches wide). Everything was ironed, to get rid of the rippley just-torn edges, and the sleeves were sewn by hand (mostly running stitch, whipped hems).

Doing the sleeves by hand let me very easily sew up one side of the gusset and down the other without catching any excess seam allowance and leaving a tiny bit of underarm seam open. The underarm seam was then finished (from the gusset point to the hem) and the seam allowances were folded over once and stitched through with a fairly coarse running stitch. I was hoping to flatfell them, but I didn't really have enough SA to do it and I didn't really care in either case. The hem was then turned up twice (except over the underarm seam - once only) and fairly roughly whipped down. The long part of the whip stitch is on the inside, so even though I wasn't especially careful it still looks decentish on the outside.

NOTE TO SELF: It looks like the sleeves could have been another inch bigger. We'll see how it ends up when it's all finished.

That all took remarkably little time. I was particularly surprised about the running stitched seams - I expected them to take much longer.

Next steps: sew gussets to sides, sleeves to shoulders, and sides from hem to gusset. Cut out neckline as small as possible, put on stays, mark neckline. Cut to shape, try on again to confirm. Check hem length. Even and hem.

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July 15th, 2009

11:59 pm - Turn of the century drop front dress.
Hiya, again, and blast old!Safari as a flakey and unreliable program when confronted with coding it doesn't understand.

Well, there went my handy list. Here's the incomplete version:

- Gathers, cartridge pleats, flat pleats all possible, flat pleats earlier?
- Gathers confined to CB and to sides of apron-fronts.
- Slash for apron-front or pockets often not on seam
- Deep pleat at side waist
- Ties either as extensions of back waistband or from CB only around to front. Ties from front almost always wrap back to front.

- As 1800 -> 1815 then bodice back -> wider
- At least one seam present, not always more. Typical combinations: sides front and back, front and SB, back and SF
- CF lining fastened with any or combination of: pins, drawstrings, lacing
- Embellishment: four rows of cording/drawstring
- Embellishment: Small tucks at hemline and/or sleeve
- Long sleeves preferrable!
- Lining often only short sleeves
- Very narrow shoulder straps possible

This is primarily from Costume in Detail.

The dress will be in yellow linen (from a table cloth I bought at the thrift store), replicating this as much as possible.


I just did the layout and it should be more than possible to get long sleeves and a two yard hemline out of the fabric, even if the patterns I'm working from turn out to be half the size I need.

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August 1st, 2008

01:33 pm
Stays update: Both sides completed. They look stunning. They went together like lightning, after the practice of the two mockups. I also got half of the bones in, and the busk.

The busk pocket need to open, but since the top is bound that can cause difficulty. The instructions want you to bind that separately, and then do some monkey busines with making everything lie flat. What I decided to do instead is fold the top down about a quarter inch, just where the pocket was going to be, and then turn that under and stitch it down. Where the edges rise up again it'll get bound in, and where it's turned it's a very clean edge, and won't get bound. Again, pictures when I find my card reader.

The bones I cross-stitched in (you see it in a lot of victorian bodices, which is where I got the idea). The ends were tricky, and if I think of a better idea I'll switch to it for sure. I just layered so much thread on that they couldn't move. They were stitched in just to the seam allowances, not anywhere else. The back bones, which I haven't put in yet, I'll do the same way I did the busk pocket - perle cotton thread in white, stitched all the way around. It vanishes on the white side, and shows up very pretty on the blue side.

I'm not going to put eyelets in, yet. If we're going to make it to the ball, I just don't have time. I'll sew lacing rings down now, and go back later to do the eyelets. Then just to bind it, and I'm set. Hopefully, all that won't take more than another hour or two.

Of course, who knows if we're going to make it to ball. Cat's just barely over her bout of influenza, and I may yet come down with it. Also trying to sew a ball gown in the next few hours is madness.

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July 31st, 2008

02:09 am - Deathmarch (III)
My busks came! I'm thrilled!

Yesterday was awful for sewing, since Cat got me out to the fabric store and then Sudden Onset Influenza struck on the way home. Most of the rest of the night was spent caring for her. However, I called in today, and once it was clear we weren't going to need to go to urgent care, I got a lot done.

I finished sewing up Mantua Maker mockup version 2.0. I'm informed (thanks!) that I read the gore instructions wrong, and it does seem like the bust gores went a lot better the third time 'round. However, after the second mockup, I stopped working on the stays, since there didn't seem to be much point. I still didn't have the busk, so there wasn't much I could do. I switched over to working on the dress bodice.

The bodice was depressing, since it was clear that it would look a whole lot better with stays under it. Long about this time I checked the front porch, and lo! The package from Lacis had arrived! I stitched a quick busk pocket in the front, and boning channels down the seams, and tried stays 2.0 on. Looked like it would work, with a slight alterations. I made the second hip gore wider (thanks to another tip), but that's the only change.

I decided to take a page out of Farthingale's book, and do the stays in two colours (at the bottom). I'm using white cotton jean and navy linen. I'll do each side as one main colour with the other in the gores, and bind it with white tape. So far, it looks fantastic. I'd post the pictures I just took, but I can't find my card reader. I'll get them up as soon as I do, though. But I got the entire blue side done, so that's, what, a third of the way through with it? Pretty super. and it really does look beautiful. When I get that done tomorrow, I'll be able to fit my bodice, and start on Cat's stays.

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July 29th, 2008

10:02 am - Deathmarch (Part 2)
Got the second version cut out, and mostly stitched together (missing back pannels). If I can get mine and Cat's done by the end of tomorrow, I should be ok. Since I can't do that, I'll have to figure out what to do. Probably, we'll go underwearless. Alas.

In any case, this time the sizing on the stays is much better. Version one was a straight-up size 10, which appeared to be the right size according to the measurements (however, I didn't see the note about waist size being most important, so perhaps not). 10 was small in every way, and smaller in some. The bust gores were emphatically not in the right place, and the back was at least six inches wide.

Version two was a size twelve front (with 7/8" added to the center on either side of the fold), and the side and back were cut size 12 high but size 14 wide (each piece only has one side on which the size makes any difference). I had to recut the side piece because her instructions for the gores are good on paper, but don't come out in the math. The problem, which affects all gores, is this (you'll probably want to follow along with pen and paper. I'll try to post pictures at some point, but it will be after I'm done with this project):

Her instructions call for a slash down the gore ending in diagonal snips, so the place the gore will go is cut in a Y shape. The seam allowances are 3/8" and the cuts make a rectangle 3/4" wide (2 x 3/8") and the length of the gore, with a triangular seam allowance on the bottom and regular seam allowances on the sides. Then the 1/2" seam allowances on the gores would act to grade out the seams, and it'll all go together right as rain. Right?

Well, only if the bust and hip gores were drafted to have a minimum of 3/4" width, plus seam allowance. That would come out to 1 3/4" total, at the base, flaring to wider at the top. The problem is that they don't. None of them were drafted that wide. She forgot that the 3/8" seam allowance would have to come from somewhere, and didn't draft the gore wide enough to provide the seam allowance. Luckily, it works out just fine if you cut it with a 1/4" seam allowance, which is what I've been doing.

Other than that her instructions seem just fine, and are perfectly comprehensible. We'll pop out to the fabric store tonight, fastlike, and get some duck or jean, bias tape, and cord, and then we'll pop back and hopefully I'll be able to finish the stays as completely as possible.

From here:

Tuesday: Stays.
Wednesday: Bodices (both will need alteration from the original pattern)
Thursday: Dresses
Friday: Dresses, reticules, finishing touches.

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July 28th, 2008

03:18 pm - The Regency Deathmarch (Part 1)
Ok, so there's this Regency masquerade ball. It's on Friday (today is Monday). I started sewing, for all intents and purposes, yesterday.

The breakdown:

- Stays (currently mocked once and re-patterned with major changes.)
- Dress
- Bandeaux (or something)
- Reticule
- Mask?
- Mitts?

- Stays
- Dress
- Reticule
- Shoes?
- Mitts?

The patterns I'm using:
- Mantua Maker's long stays. So far, their sizing seems to be very off. We'll see. But the pattern goes together very fast, and it doesn't take much fabric, so I don't feel bad about mocking it up a few times.
- Sense and Sensibility's Regency dress. I've popped this open, but haven't begun anything with it yet.

We aren't going to have much by way of underwear - not even shifts, probably, but it's almost period, so that's alright.

Things I have:
- Fabric for linings and most of the stays (thrifted bedsheets - very soft)
- Fabric for my dress (blue silk) and Cat's (two weights of cotton)
- Enough boning for at least one pair of stays
- The patterns

Things on order:
- Busks and boning for the other stays (rushed, so hopefully they'll arrive in time)

Things I need:
- Bias tape
- A light jean or something for the stays. Mine can be in the dark blue linen I have, but Cat's need to be white, and I don't have anything right.
- Leather for the shoe soles. This probably won't happen in time, and that's ok.
- Cord for Cat's dress ties.
- Lacing cord.

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