Sunday, August 30, 2015

TBT: Butterick 3640 Does the 1770s ("Esmerelda", 2004)

I made this gown in 2004 for Hallowe'en. It is, in fact, directly responsible for me failing my third NaNoWriMo attempt (it was my second and last loss; I've won every year since then). I took some pictures of the construction process, inspired at the time by sites like Koshka-the-Cat. Most of them really aren't worth sharing, so I won't ;)

For a commercial pattern (now out of print), this one makes a decent costume. It would need a lot of work to make it historically accurate, but for a new seamstress, it was challenging enough and produced a lovely outfit. I'd learned to sew when I was 13-14 years old, but I didn't enjoy it at all, and I gave it up just a few years later. I made a project here and there over the years, nothing that was ever finished or wearable. I loved historical fashions, and the few bloggers who were out there uploading their creations pre-blogging days, but so many of them self-drafted (how do I math??) or used one of the few independent pattern companies out there, pattern companies that rarely shipped to Canada, and if they did, charged an arm and a leg to ship it. As well, at the time I didn't have a credit card and PayPal had not quite opened to Canadian clients yet, so I was super happy that a commercial pattern, that I could walk into any fabric store and buy, had something that looked like it would work. So, I eventually invested in some fabric, a nice embroidered linen, and made up my gown.

Can I hear a HUZZAH for the advancement of the internet, more patterns and research available, and ease-of-access to things that we didn't have 10 years ago? HUZZAH!

It took a long time to pleat the skirts, but pleating guide helped a lot. Each pleat is stitched for a couple inches. I did use the netting in the skirt but if I ever make this again (with some other adjustments), I will leave it out. You can see that I used white or cream fabric for lining the bodice, and black for the sleeves. As I recall, I did fit the lining in the white fabric (probably cotton) before deciding to cut the fashion fabric and then just used it as lining. The bodice closes with hooks and eyes. As I recall, the pattern directs you to sew on hooks and make thread loops; I opted to use hook and eye tape. I didn't have a lot of luck with it, it gapped a lot and pulled. As I didn't know any better, I didn't make or wear any undergarments. I would absolutely do so now. Since I am not a standard size, I fit the bodice to my bust measurement and fudged the waist, and was terrified of the bodice ripping open during the two nights that I wore it. A set of stays will do the work of holding the body in the correct shape and save the gown itself the stress of doing so. And, as this gown is very low cut, a shift and perhaps some trim would definitely help hide a tiiiiny bit more skin ;)

Other than that, and the laundry list of changes to make to make it more historically accurate (and really, once you get into changing the armscyes and sleeves, you might as well just get a historically accurate pattern), this pattern went together easily and created a really lovely garment! I dubbed her "Esmerelda" and only wore her twice. I had her in my closet for many years and finally sold her last year when I realized that I would never do so again.

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