September 5th, 2009
Okay, so. When I left the house I had cut sleeves but not sewn them, stitched the twill waistband on the sides and back but not the front, and the skirt was pressed down at the waist and the very tight gathering CB was done, but nothing else. I did know how much of the front I wanted flat.
Steph picked me up at the Holgate library and we got down to Ainsworth house a little before 4. I started with the front bodice, sewing it to the waistband. The AHA! bullet point in the last post was when I figured out how that was going to go - the bodice was actually stitched with a running stitch to the inside of the twill tape waistband, so the raw edges were just hanging down. Then I gathered the skirt to size and stitched it on over the waistband. The skirt had a pressed over top edge, so that was already finished and it gave the gathering a little bit more bulk. The top of the skirt was matched with the top of the waistband, so the twill tape didn't show at all. There were a couple of reasons to do it this way: sewing all the seams was easier, since nothing had to be pressed over or turned under. Each layer could just be laid on top of the previous, pinned, and sewn all the way through with a running stitch. The twill tape waistband was not visible, but gave the waist a great deal of strength and sturdiness. For those who like pictures:
The tape acted as an interface between the bodice and the skirt, so if the skirt were stepped on, it wouldn't tear the bodice (this turned out to be really good, since the skirt was stepped on - probably by myself, when I was dancing - and about six inches in the side tore. However, only the stitching broke and it will be a very easy repair). The sleeves went on last. Steph gave me a hand putting on the dress (the first time I'd tried it on in any particularly meaningful way) and we figured out where the shoulder straps should end. I cut the sleeves on a fold of fabric because I knew that I would want a doubled layer and that saved a lot of time sewing any kind of hem on the sleeve. I stitched up the underarm seam, ran a gathering thread, picked a place at random for the underarm seam to match the bodice ( I think I went with the side front seam) and started sewing it on. I was aiming for a sleeve that had a little bit of fullness at the back shoulder, but as it came out the armscye seams matched exactly. Because I couldn't iron, I stitched the armpit half of the armscye right sides together, but when I got to the front, back, and top of the shoulder I turned the strap SA under, laid it on top of the outside of the sleeve, and stitched through.
I think I finished the last stitch at about 6:20, shortly after the party technically started but I think dinner actually started at about 7. Steph helped me get done up and loaned me a little cameo necklace which looked very pretty with the dress. I didn't do a thing with my hair.
The ball itself was lovely. Dinner was a very nice buffet, and I met a bunch of internet friends. Now they're my friends in real life, too (!!!). There was called English Country Dance, which I've never done before but it was so much fun. I sat out the first dance, but I think I danced all the rest of them. As expected there were more women than men, but not as few as one might worry. I think almost a third of the party was probably gentlemen.
Things I learned about the costume: I definitely need more than a 60 inch hem on the petticoat. For just walking it was marginally fine, but for dancing it was simply not wide enough. Mjy back, right between the shoulderblades, got very stiff. I'm not sure if that's because of all the sewing I was doing or how small the petticoat back was. I suspect the latter.
Lauren gave me a ride home. We snarked about the particularly bad costumes, and talked about costuming books and museum websites. It's not just me, there really isn't nearly as much information on men's clothing as women's. I'm going to take her on a tour of the Reed Library costuming books, since they have a few she might want to buy.
I'm going to take apart the bodice and redo the drawstrings (with strings I like) and the shoulder straps to be narrower. The sleeves felt a bit constricting when I first put on the dress, so I'll probably also redo the sleeves just a little, though I didn't notice how tight they were at the end of the evening. I may also need to make the side panel a bit wider, since there were pull lines around the front armscye, but I didn't have an especially close look at it. I will before I press out any of the wrinkles. In the end it may be simpler to just redo the bodice completely, but I'd rather not if I don't have to.
Anyway, here's the only photo I have (yet) - I didn't take my camera, it just seemed like there was too much else to worry about. This is first thing I got dressed, before the party.