Jenny La Fleur
the joy of toiles - Jenny La Fleur
adventures in costuming
the joy of toiles
So like I said before, I've been working on this frock in little pieces of time. So I'm here, there and everywhere with my journaling. Sorry about that. But since I think having a detailed diary will come in handy someday, I'm just going to write it as it happened.

First thing I did was to unpack Mom's ballgown bodice and sort out all the pattern pieces in the file (that took a while as she used two different patterns!). That is when I discovered that it really wasn’t going to be of much help. Mom made a lot of changes to the original pattern and all the changes were marked on the fitting toile, which was thrown away 15 years ago. This ladies and gentlemen is why we trace of "master patterns" when we make changes to a toile. Oh well! It was nice to try on the bodice and at least get an idea of what that would look like on me and where it should hit my shoulder and all that.

So I went back to the Hunnisett pattern. This time around I decided to use it as an actual pattern, enlarge it to the "original" size, sew it up as is and fit from there (as opposed to using it as a base to drape from).

To prep Narcissa for the fitting I padded her up to better match my natural bum roll *ahem*, then laced on my 18th century stays (similar cone shape - kudos to Kendra for the idea!) and added rolls of batting to simulate arms (my thanks to Bess for that idea!). I sewed up the front and back of the toile, leaving the side seams unstitched, and began pinning it on Narcissa. I decided to ignore the neckline for the time being and focus on the fit and seaming of the bodice.

Once I got the side seams pinned in I turned my attention to the front seams. I decided I wanted the seaming to match my trimming so I spent a few hours pinning, layering and otherwise playing around with my metallic lace. Thanks to a slim budget my trim is rather narrow so I'm taking inspiration from this painting of Vermeer and using multiple rows of it.

After my experimenting I decided on the slightly higher and more dramatic placement. Mom thought it would be more flattering on me and I thought it was more visually interesting - important since my fabric and trim are simple. I think it knocks my dress back into the 1660s rather than my initial concept of the mid 1670s but it's okay. No biggie!

I then decided to follow the patterning of the 1660s bodice in Bath and create a seam right where the trim is (Waugh shows this) and one that ends where the skirt goes from under the front of the bodice to over the tabs. I then lengthened the toile, using my stays as a guide, so I can add the tabs (which the Hunnisett pattern lacks).

So after marking the heck out of it I took the toile apart and used a combination of the marked toile and my Diderot stays pattern to create new pattern pieces. I then cut and stitched a new toile and this was the result. Wrinkles and bunching in the very front and the side doesn't fit. *sigh*

I decided to tackle one problem at a time and work on the front section first. I decided to try a simple solution and to simply take out the center front seam and cut it on the fold instead. I also cleaned up the curve a bit, with the help of a French curve, and then sewed up the new piece into my toile. You can't see it well in the pic because of the black fabric but it is perfect, not a wrinkle or bunch to be seen. Yay! I hope this works when I go to fir the neckline becasue it looks so pretty here! :P


8 comments | comment?
From: hohenstein Date: June 3rd, 2009 05:18 pm (UTC) (link)

Thanks for posting this-I'm working on the Hunnisett bodice, too & your experiences (padding to simulate arms, etc.) will help a lot.

jennylafleur From: jennylafleur Date: June 5th, 2009 11:02 am (UTC) (link)
I really like the shape and seams of the Hunnisett, it just wasn’t quite what I had in my head so I'm changing it a lot...
padawansguide From: padawansguide Date: June 3rd, 2009 05:43 pm (UTC) (link)
This will definitely be useful for me at some point, thanks for documenting how you are doing this! :-)
jennylafleur From: jennylafleur Date: June 5th, 2009 11:03 am (UTC) (link)
You are welcome! I was hoping others would start/post before me but I got tired of waiting!
elegant_musings From: elegant_musings Date: June 3rd, 2009 11:28 pm (UTC) (link)
Even though I daresay I shall never make a costume from this era (as much as I love the gowns and silhouette!), I really enjoyed reading all your nit-picking details about the toile and design ideas. :) Good luck on all the fitting!
jennylafleur From: jennylafleur Date: June 5th, 2009 11:07 am (UTC) (link)
Thanks! It's turning out to be a laborious process but I realized the other day that it's because this is a completely new era for me. It's been so long since I ventured into completely uncharted territory like this, having been happily playing in the 18th century/Regency sandbox for a while now - I've forgotten what it's like when you have never done something before!

*sigh* I'm sure it will make me a better costumer in the long run but dude - I miss my already fitted and tweaked master patterns!
From: misscrabtree Date: June 6th, 2009 11:59 pm (UTC) (link)
Jenny, will probably never make such a costume, but I enjoy reading your progress.
jennil From: jennil Date: June 7th, 2009 01:31 pm (UTC) (link)
I think you're making great progress, and, I love the blue stays!!!
8 comments | comment?