Upon looking through the books and dribbling at the sight of gorgeous period pieces I got a bit overwhelmed and put them aside. Let's face it, they are way too complicated for the novice sewer. The instructions are practically non- existing, the patterns need to be enlarged using a grading method and the techniques used look too complicated. One day, I thought (and still think), one day!!
Because I'm waiting for the Lady Grey sew along when the weekend arrived I was bored. I decided to look into the above mentioned books and choose an outfit and start work on it. I though to myself, why not? I can at least have a go and see how it goes. So I picked the style below ignoring the skirt for now and concentrating on the bodice. Or I should say basque.
First I had to grade the pattern.They are very small and have a huge amount of measurings printed vertically and horizontally. These were the numbers that scared my so much when I first laid eyes on them. But when reading the instructions, it's not that complicated. The vertical numbers mean actual length of the full size pattern and the horizontal are the width. All you need is a ruler a pen and paper to transfer the measurements. I had to overcome the fact it's all in inches. Hello, I'm from the continent, I don't do inches. I guess now I do! Not a problem, even getting used to them. The other problem for me is drawing curves. Definitely need to get myself a french fashion curve. The patterns include seams but do not include allowances for any buttons, collars, etc. I decided not to worry about these for now. I'll start by checking fit.
I transfered all the basque pieces and re traced them onto new paper, keeping the originals as master copies. I then progressed to cutting and marking in calico. The front has two big darts which I had to eye a bit as the pattern measurements are a bit off. There are no instructions on what to sew where but with pieces at hand and names on them it was relatively easy. Little problems of edges not matching which I will address in paper pattern. There's 2 fronts (which remain open in front to put buttons), 2 underarm gore, 2 side back and 2 backs. Nothing is cut on the fold (I think!) The author warns us that even after grading patterns up the sizes are quite small to modern standards. I thought I would get away with it as I'm quite petite but I was wrong. It is very, very small and tight.
At this stage, you're probably looking at the sleeve. I definitely need to practice sleeves. It's way to tight and I cannot raise my arm. It's nothing to do with sizing, it's the way I gathered and set it. There's an extra bulk in the back that I don't know how it got that. To add to that, I sewed it on the wrong side. Duh!! I shall the picking that up tomorrow with my trusted seam ripper and attempt again.
Next stage is to practice putting the sleeves in :) When I'm moderately happy with it I will alter the pattern to my size and start all over again. And it might take a while!
The Lady Grey sew along is soon starting and I also have a few photoshoots in the pipeline, so work on this will be slow. I finally bought the fabric, lining and other indispensables for the sew along and should receive all middle week. I will share my fabric choices with you as soon as I get them.
Thank you for reading and feel free to leave a comment!