Monday, July 15, 2013

Romantic Dresses

 So I've been working on some dresses for an upcoming theatrical. I've decided I enjoy costuming for the theater, because while it is often historically-based, allowances can be made for the circumstances: being on stage, being wired with a mike, changing costumes, etc. And besides being historical, the costumes have to impart character in coloring and design perhaps rather more than normal reenacting garments.

 Matron dress: Yes, I know: plastic button fail. This dress is all simple grey broadcloth, made for the matron of an orphanage. There are three yards in the skirt. The bodice is fitted with darts, and I added a small pocket on the lower front. The sleeves are slightly curved with a little gathered fullness at the top.


I started out with this dress in patterned cotton. My goal was to make it drape over the front, so I put slanted pleats at the shoulder and gathered the bodice front at the waistline, as close as possible to the center front. It turned out well, but the lady who will be wearing it is fairly small, and the gathered fabric puffed out ridiculously, so I had to take it in at the shoulder and tack down the pleats for some pouf control.

Shoulder pleats.

This dress I went with larger sleeves and small boned waist pleats. The buttons are supposedly coconut shell. I didn't spend time on matching the stripes, and that probably shows at the front closure.

I also added piping at the seams.

This dress is for a street girl selling flowers. It's going to be very striking.

Costumes and Costuming

Because of the Romantic gowns for the upcoming play I've really been neglecting my Pirate gown. So far, though, I've knocked out three girl's dresses and two women's, with about the same number remaining to complete.

I finally got my treadle into working condition. It ended up costing probably about half of what it would cost to buy a similar one on craigslist, but oh well. I had to buy a new leather belt, a needlebar clamp, and some needles. I tried the OK Sewing in Omaha first and bought the belt from them, but they didn't have a matching needle clamp and basically told me that since they didn't have it, no one did. That wasn't very helpful. Next I tried the Sewing/Vacuum shop in Council Bluffs, and they did have a needle clamp and needles.

About my neglected Pirate dress: I have cut out all the pieces and begun to put them together. I used the JP Ryan "Robe a la Anglaise" pattern. I like this pattern because it is basic and thus can be either formal or low-class, and then decorated a great variety of ways. But then, it's also the only purchased colonial pattern I've ever used! As other reviewers have mentioned, this pattern is long in the waist, high in the back, and the shoulder straps are very long.

I spent some amount of time looking for Pirate-dress trim. Faux leather is too chunky; lace is too overdone(and expensive), metallic is too gaudy. I want daring, but natural! Pirate, but ladylike! Then I found the jute section. It's a natural fiber, so it has a bit of a rustic look, but it's available in a few but neat-looking styles. Plus, it's cheaper. I ordered some for the sleeve hem and for down the gown front, and I'm really pleased with how it looks. Though I haven't had time to put it on yet....


Monday, July 8, 2013

The Romantic Era

Fabric for five romantic-era gowns for a theatrical production: two ladies, one orphan, and two middle class working women. By the way, ever wonder why it's called the "Romantic" era? Here's what wiki says.