Friday, September 30, 2016

The Great Pumpkin, Part 1 - The Petticoat

I'm finally back at it again! It feels like forever since I've been able to work on anything, and I'm diving right back in, and finally getting to work on The Great Pumpkin. If you don't remember the dress, let me refresh your memory of this glorious creature.

Yeeees, it's so fantastic. How could I resist making something so completely kookie and fabulous?

I purchased the fabric for this dress last fall, but didn't have the time to make it for our annual Georgian Picnic, so they languished in the Stash for a while. I was lucky to find them when I did, because when I went back to the same warehouse a few months later, they were both gone. But, I bought 7 yards of the orange taffeta (red/yellow shot) and 5 yards of the teal taffeta (blue/green shot), so that should be enough to pull together the entire outfit.

I tried to manipulate the photo above to get the correct, true to life colors, but it didn't work so well. The fabric really does look different in every light! Sometimes the teal is bright emerald green, sometimes it looks cobalt blue, it really depends on how the sun is hitting it. It's sort of fantastic, but also frustrating to photograph. The orange does this, too, sometimes picking up more yellow or red, but it's not nearly as noticeable as the teal. You can really see how variable the colors are in all the photographs in this post. The fabrics never look the same twice!

I decided to start with the petticoat, since it was the easiest part and I could work on it while I figured out the gown construction. The pattern is super simple - two 33" panels of the orange, two 13" panels of the teal, and three 4" panels of the orange for the box-pleated trim. I had to cut everything out with pinking shears since the fabric had the tendency to fray.

I sewed all the long interior seams on the machine so they wouldn't show. I didn't realize it before, but I actually used a modified mantua-maker's seam. Since I'm working with two very different colors, it's easy to demonstrate this seam with the skirt panels.

I start with right sides together, offsetting one panel of the fabric by 1/4".

I then fold the offset fabric over the lower panel to encase the raw edge.

Then I fold both fabrics over again, to create a smooth edge and not have any raw edges showing at all.

To close the seam, I stitch as close to the edge as possible with the machine. I could do this by hand and close it the way I would a hem, but since the seam is on the inside and it's likely no one will ever see it, I didn't bother with the hand sewing on this. This method creates a very clean seam on the inside, though, and since I'm using two different fabrics it also creates a sort of decorative element, as well.

Once I had all the long seams sewn together, I hemmed the bottom of the petticoat. I used a fairly wide 2-inch hem, which I sewed down by hand to create a clean look. I was really happy with how the hem just sort of vanished into the fabric, even on the inside. You can see the inside of the hem at the top of the pic below, and the outside of the hem at the bottom.

Then I tackled the narrow length of fabric that would become the box-pleated trim. I sewed three lengths of fabric together with mantua-maker seams to create one length of fabric, 180 inches long by 4 inches wide. I then hemmed the entire thing by hand on both edges, which took forever and was horrible. I already hate hemming by hand, but this was so tedious and long and terrible, and I hated it. But, it does look pretty spiffy now that it's all done, and it was worth it not to have big ugly machine stitching visible on the right side of the trim. I still have two other sections of box pleated trim to look forward to, but I'll huff and puff over those when I get to them.

Once I had the trim hemmed, I started applying it to the skirt. I lined the top of the hem on one edge of the trim with the line where the teal fabric connected to the orange, and began creating small box pleats all along the join of the two fabrics.

Once I was happy with the placement and spacing of all the box pleats, I tacked them down by hand. I used tiny prick stitches to make the stitching as inconspicuous as possible. This actually didn't take as long as I expected, and I was finished attaching the trim in less than two hours.

With that, the worst part of making the petticoat was over! I put the petticoat on my mannequin over the skirt supports I intended to use, and adjusted the length of the front skirt at the waist. The back length didn't need to be adjusted, since the skirt is over a bum pad. Instead of cutting away the extra length at the front, I just cut a slit down the centre front, and then folded the excess fabric back. It was a little scary to cut right into the middle of the skirt panel, but it worked perfectly!

Once the length was adjusted, I put the skirt back onto the mannequin and pleated the fabric to the waist. Once I was satisfied with the width and placement of the pleats, I basted them in place.

After that, all that remained was to add the waist bands. I used the skirt fabric to create the tapes, so it all matches nicely.

And that was it! The next step will be to pattern out the under-bodice so I can start on the levite gown itself. I was really pleased with how quickly the petticoat went together, even with all the hand-sewing that needed to be done. It gives me hope that I can put the rest of the gown together fairly quickly and have it ready for the Georgian Picnic in November.

1 comment:

  1. I don't think I'd ever seen that painting before, it's delightful! The petticoat looks great and I'm looking forward to seeing the rest of the gown!