Tuesday, December 8, 2015

2015- The Mrs. Claus Project- Part 1

Mrs. Claus was created because of two coinciding events. The first was that the Father Christmas was out at events doing photo shoots and visits.  Our daughter was in a pretty Green taffeta Christmas dress, and here I was in my jeans, sneakers and Sleeping Beauty/ 10th Doctor mass up tee shirt.  I looked so out of place it was silly.

Mean while, I had just finished a show where I was making 1880's gowns for a lady of quality.  I was beginning to take an interest in the Victorian era outfits.  Keep in mind, previously I detested this time period.  I did NOT want to have anything to do with it because it was all froo froo and ruffles, and hoop skirts, and layers upon layers.  YUCK!  Yet some how I came to discover that it was an era, specifically the 1870-1890's that peeked my interest in silhouette and construction techniques.  It also helped that my body frame worked ideally for this style of gowns.

That Christmas the DH got me three Truly Victorian Patterns.  They were not cheap let me tell you.  When you go from getting the Big three pattern companies 99 cents each sales to hand crafted historically accurate patterns, your wallet takes a sticker shock.  They range from $13-18 each but they are well worth it. For Christmas I was given a gift card to a fabric store so I set out to make myself a gown from those patterns.  Yeah, that fabric is still sitting in my office, untouched.

Since then I had also acquired 7-8 yards of a nice wool fabric that I was going to make myself a Steampunk inspired gown to wear during cold weather events.  I wanted to do it in the  1880's style. It is what they call a natural form.  Instead of having bustles and hoops under the gown, the silhouette shows of the natural curves of the body and the skirts slope from the waist to floor in a natural 45 degree angle.  The only thing under the dress is a petticoat the supports the dress to keep the gentle slope.  Keep in mind that had been the plan until the DH threw the gauntlet down for me to make something for Mrs. Claus.

I found an inspiration photograph in this gown.  My design ended up being nothing like this other than the square neckline, 3/4 sleeves with ruffles, then an over skirt with green under skirt.  This at least gave me a jumping point so I knew what I was looking for.  I love to have an inspiration image of some sort when I start a project.  In all honestly, it may not turn out like the image (unless I'm paid to do that)  but it will get me in the neighborhood of where I want to go.

This left me with the challenge of figuring out what exactly it was going to take to make this very complex gown, AND the underpinnings to go with it.  What people forget is that just because you have a gown doesn't mean that what you wear under it isn't important. It is what gives a gown it's structure and silhouette.

Something I always do before I start a project was take an inventory of what patterns I have on hand that I can use on my project.  This will prevent over buying of patterns and let me use what I have already invested in.   What I did have on hand was a skirt, petticoat and bodice pattern from the 1870's.  Problem was that the look I was going for was from the 1880's.   For perspective that is  like trying to use baggy pants and shirts patterns from the 1990's to make tight fitting jeans and tops from the Madonna look of the 1980's.  Is it doable, yes, but it would make life so much easier if I actually had a pattern that was from the correct time period.
As luck would have it,  I got an amazon gift card and was able to purchase  a corset pattern, a bustle patter, a new skirt pattern, and an over skirt pattern.  I also bought another special bodice pattern that I would later make my wool gown out of  ( at least that is the plan).

Now that I had the patterns, it was onto fabric and all the pieces no one will ever see.