Friday, March 23, 2018

A Unique and Frugal Idea

I've made some dresses I really like. I've also made some dresses that I don't care for all that much. There have also been dresses that surprised me, like this dotted sheer. I was 100% AGAINST white when I decided to make a sheer dress, but being a cheapskate means beggars can't be choosers, so the dress material was bought for $5 a yard, somewhat grudgingly was white.

It turned out to be extremely light and comfortable, and ultra-fashionable feeling! So cool in the dead heat of the summer too; I've worn it to a few events with 90 degrees +. The result was a nice surprise, but there were also a few drawbacks.

1. White in the sun makes you look like a blob. In pictures, and in real life. See below.
2. Apparently bugs are drawn to white. Not that that really bothers me, but people are always coming up and brushing the bugs off my dress.
3. A few people have said I look like Mary Poppins with my red waist. Now, I LIKE the red and white, but I hate associations. Not that I blame them, because it does.

And this wasn't even directly in the sun!

So my idea is to retire this dress, and make a new sheer/light cotton 1860's dress in a less bug-attracting color. Despite having owned this dress for maybe 3 or 4 years, it's in surprisingly good shape. Any stains have been successfully scrubbed out. Rather than keep this dress in my closet, I would love to pick it apart and remake it into something new entirely. The skirt is least 50% larger than the average 1860's dress. While that's not ideal, it does give me more cutting yardage for a new dress. I also have a yard or two up in my stash. I also made a dress for my sister in this same material, and if I give it a few years she'll outgrow it. Not that I want to wait a few years.....or that it won't be shredded by then.

Because I'm a fashion plate junky, I did some research of fashion plates that were sheer cotton, and with dots. Dots were typically flat-embroidered on in silk thread, rather than a little clipped tuft, so my material isn't perfectly accurate, but oh well. Here are some options in no particular order; keep in mind that each fashion plate has a different way of displaying the spots.

1. An 1880 house (or evening) dress, if of muslin made over a basic silk dress (the one on the right). I'm always a sucker for natural form, although I question whether I have enough fabric.
May 1880 Petersons Magazine

2. A 1799 Morning dress, with a little vest over the top. The length of the train might be limited to the length of the skirt, although by the time the tucks are let out it could be pretty long. I've already done a specifically 1799 dress, so this isn't my favorite option, but I'm leaving it on here because I really like the vest.
November 1799 Ladies Monthly Museum

3. An 1840 dinner or evening dress of white spotted gauze over white satin; the sleeves are black velvet (kind of a weird detail, right?). I feel like they might look like black holes on your arms in person. I could probably eek this out.
 March 1840 Le Follet

4. An 1841 evening dress, with an underskirt made in puffs. This one's a little frilly for me.

February 1841 Ladies Cabinet

5. An 1849 evening dress, with the underskirt of plain tarlatane. Love the basic-ness of it, and I definitely have enough yardage for this one.

February 1849 Godeys Magazine

6. An 1852 evening gown, trimmed with ribbon. I love almost everything about this design. I would probably need to wait, and use the skirt from my sister's dress for the upper layer.
March 1852 Le Moniteur de la Mode

7. An 1870 evening dress, with black bows down one side. I don't love bows, but I like black and white a lot, so there might be a way to come up with a different trim that suits my taste a little more. I would totally do black roses, if I thought they would be accurate. What I like about this one is I definitely have enough fabric, and it would feel a little like making an old dress over in a new style (rather than going back in time). Because of the square cut-bodice, I might not need to make a new bodice but just cut the current one down. Off-the-shoulder necklines typically need adjust and a basic cut-down from a high-necked dress usually doesn't work.
January 1870 Petersons Magazine.

8. An 1867 evening dress for the seaside; skirt and bodice of blue silk, with the overdress in dotted white. This might be a less frugal way of re-working this fabric, since it would only need a little bit, but there would definitely be enough; it's the figure on the right.
August 1867 Godeys Magazine

While I don't really need another evening dress, I wouldn't mind one. I like the variety of eras to choose from; while I've already done Natural form and Regency, I wouldn't mine doing them again, but I also wouldn't mind doing a new era. 

Which one is your favorite?


  1. That 1852 evening gown with ribbon trim caught my eye IMMEEEEDJUTLEYYYYYY but I think the black and white would be fantastic too!


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