Tuesday, March 11, 2014

HSF '14: #5: Bodice: Inspiration and Progress

With just a few days left before the next HSF challenge is due, I thought I would share some of my processes and inspirations.

For this particular challenge, I had the most perfectest item in mind to make. I spoke about it in last year's #10: Literary inspiration post, which was more side-related to that project. To recap, I was reading Gail Carriger's Parasol Protectorate series, and in Soulless, Alexia went out for an evening in a cream ballgown with raspberry trim. As I was in the middle of constructing a cream-coloured dress and had planned for raspberry accents when I had time, this was very fortuitous, as it gave me another option to make for the skirts.

One reason that I am enjoying participating in the HSF so much is that it gives me focus. I'm one of those people who works much better with deadlines, and I think it is great to be working on projects even when I don't have a particular NEED for those projects. I usually end up frantically sewing late into the night and waking up early to finish a costume, usually to just a wearable state (most of my skirts don't have closures, for example; they all close with safety pins). It's nice to work with a deadline but not have a specific need. This bodice challenge will be one that I likely won't 100% finish it (I'll consider it a win if I can get it to "wearable"; it definitely won't be trimmed!) but it will be a lot easier to complete it when I do need it with most of the work done already.

Photo by A. Yoner.
Big Valley, AB, Canada

In 2011, when I made the original outfit, I ended up making a favourite, Truly Victorian's 1884 French Vest Bodice. It was another event that I was frantically sewing for - I had spent the day before hand-sewing a hat and by the time I got home, my fingers were so sore that I put on 16 out of 20 buttons, and there was no way I was going to be able to stitch the pleats in place. I sewed the last of the buttons in the car, and the pleats were pinned into place. I've since sewn those down, but the skirts still lack closures...

And looking at it now, the fit is not great. I hadn't yet figured out that I needed to take out some inches in the chest, and at least part of it is the wrong size. I'm not sure yet if I'll ever take it apart and try to correct those issues. It's gonna be a lot of work. I have not worn it since 2012, and while I don't want to retire the outfit, I'm not sure when I'll wear it again.

Anyway, this challenge is PERFECT. I've been wanting to make a matching ballgown bodice since I made it. I didn't have a lot of fabric left - one piece 22" by 66", to be precise. I had JUST BARELY enough to make the main pieces. There is not enough left over to make sleeves, so this will be a sleeveless bodice.

That dark shadow in the corner is from the rather large amount of fabric my mum gave me :3

Of course, I had to second guess myself a lot first. Even though I'd planned this since the challenge was announced, at the start of the week I started wondering what else I could make that wouldn't take a lot of effort. When I made the original gown, I was timing myself on the construction so that I would have a better idea on the amount of time and effort spent. The skirts - the base, the pleated ruffle, and the overskirt - all took less time than one bodice. The French vest bodice was about 20 hours of work; that's a lot to spend on something, even over a couple weeks. But I was really stuck on the idea of "bodice", and after considering and rejecting several ideas, I decided that this one really was the one that needed to happen.

It took a little Tetris-ing, but I got all of the main pieces laid out. Sweeeet. This pattern has the corrected chest, and I also made changes to the armhole. My first ballgown bodice, in tangerine taffeta, did not have the armhole corrected and I find it sits somewhat oddly on my shoulders, mainly that it doesn't. It should hopefully be good now. I am confident enough in the pattern to just jump in with both feet. I have the outer layers basted and constructed and boned; now I just need to decide what to line it with :)

Mum... can I start pulling out all those pins you just put in?

And after I had laid out my fashion fabric, I discovered something. I always thought I had just managed to drop an unusual amount of pins, but it turns out that if I leave the pin dish on the floor, my cat will steal pins out of it and then chase them around a bit. I think he likes the way the pin causes the ball to skitter unevenly. So I've been good about picking it up once I'm done with it. After I'd pinned out the fashion fabric, I left it on the floor to retrieve a drink, and turned back to find him pulling pins out of the fabric! He pulled out half a dozen, just like that! He's thankfully shown no interest in actually eating them, just pulling them out and chasing them! What a silly kitty!

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