Sunday, January 29, 2012

the "oh crap" moment

Have you ever had that feeling when you try on a project for the first time and you discover that the absolutely perfect costume plan that you've had in your head for months and months is nowhere near as perfect in reality?  Unfortunately, I had one of those horrible "oh crap" moments today.

This March, the DFWCG is having a steampunk tea party, and my plan was to make a super fabulous 1890's cycling costume based on this:

I found the perfect pattern for the jacket in 59 Authentic Turn of the Century Patterns, and I used my nifty apportioning scales to enlarge it to my size this week.  The enlarging went pretty well for the bodice.  The fit through the body is great, and all I would need to do is adjust the darts a little.  The back collar piece was slightly too big, but it would be an easy fix.  The sleeve, on the other hand, was WAY too big, which happens fairly often when you are enlarging one of these patterns that uses the bust measurement ruler for everything.  I could go back and try to draft another one with a smaller scale, or I could just alter the sleeve that I have to make it fit better.  I am not overly fond of the pleating pattern this sleeve uses, but again, I could change that with no problem.  I also messed up and used the bust scale instead of the waist scale for the skirt of the bodice, so it was way too big and I will definitely need to redraft that if I decide to move forward.

So the pattern is working fine, but here's the problem.  I underestimated the amount of effort it is going to take to tailor this thing correctly.  The lapels and collar are going to take a MASSIVE amount of pad stitching and stiffening to make them lay right.  And I honestly have no idea how to get the sleeves to poof out enough that they won't look sad and limp.  There is obviously some major engineering going on in a jacket like this, and I'm not 100% sure that my skills are up for the task.

Of course, I shouldn't judge a project too harshly based on the first mockup, but I tried my muslin on today and all I could think was "meh".  It makes me feel top-heavy and even with all the weight that I've lost this past year, I'm still not sure that my waist is small enough to offset the poofiness in this outfit.  Plus, the thought of all that tailoring is daunting to say the least.

I just don't know.  Maybe I'll put it aside for a week or two and let it ferment.  I don't have a plan B costume for this event, and I've already bought all the fabric for the cycling suit, so I sort of feel obligated to push on through.  What do you do when you discover that you are no longer in love with a costume that you were once super-excited about?  Continue anyway?  Find something else and not waste your time and energy on something you no longer love?  I usually try to keep going no matter what, but the results of that have been mixed in the past.  Sometimes I'm happy with the final results and I'm grateful that I didn't give up, and sometimes I waste weeks or months on something that I ultimately hate and often never finish anyway.   Maybe I should try a different plan this time and cut my losses now and start looking for another costume idea.

We'll see...


Cynthia Griffith said...

I think I have heard that you can use something like tulle to help stiffen and poof out the sleeves (flatline it, I think?). If the sleeves were fixed to the right size like you mentioned and poofed out at the top, and the lapels were laying smoothly, I think it would look right and you would look great (and it would emphasize your tiny waist)! It's a weird fashion to modern eyes, and one that a lot of people get nervous about wearing, but I think you would look great in it! Maybe you just need to step away from it for a few days and have a few other people tell you what they think.

As far as what I do with projects I fall out of love with? My yellow rose jacket annoyed me shortly after I started it. There turned out to be nothing wrong with it, but I was panicked that I cut it wrong and the fit would be all wrong and look stupid on me. It sat for a long time, and I finally made myself finish it. It ended up turning out a lot better than I thought -- even with some of the mistakes that happened during my rush to finish it on time.

Stealthflower said...

Looking at the photo of your mockup, your waist is DEFINITELY small enough to make the outfit work. And even if you don't get the sleeves as bouffy as you'd like, the fabric will still look sculptural enough that everyone else will just assume it's intentional ;)

Margravine Louisa said...

don't give up on it - it's a fantastic idea and looks great on you - WE are not used to the amount of material in some of those sleeves- use fabric starch, put some big shoulder pads in it - wear a bulkier sweater underneath, whatever it takes! I envy you your great figure, and just saw a video of women bicylcing in the 1890' s- your costume is dead right!

liselfwench said...

This cycling outfit is one of my favorite historical costumes; I hope you finish it! I just finished a steampunk costume using this outfit as inspiration: my sleeves were made from thick enough material that no extra padding was necessary. See it here:

But for something like yours, the ladies of the era would definitely have worn pads made of fabric or wire underneath to poof them up into the proper shape.

Megan Martin said...

The first thing I thought of for the sleeve was the tulle fluff that Sarah Lorraine over at Mode Historique put in her Elizabeth Brydges Gown -

I think it might solve the poof problem. :D

As for abandoning, I never do that. ~shifty look~ Yeah, I abandon projects all the time, and with only a couple of exceptions, I never really think back on them. The bicycle outfit is super cute though, so maybe let it rest for a while and then take another stab at it. :)

Lynne Williams said...

To support the sleeve fullness you can flat line the upper portion only with tulle, and in addition to that create a tulle ruffle that gets sewn onto the seam allowance along the top of the cap. Make the ruffle as deep as required to support the fullness.

With sleeves and a skirt that full your waist will look itty bitty.

I find its best to forge ahead. I often get disenchanted with a project during the thick of it, but I always learn something from the process. Its a great garment..i say forge:)

Lauren said...

I think it looks fantastic!
I would like to echo the others- flat line the upper portion of the sleeve only with either tulle or silk organza. For a "rope" on the sleeve cap, if you want it, I've used felt that I cut in a sort of a long fisheye shape and sew right at the seamline at the top of the sleeve only after you have the sleeves attached but before you sew in the lining.
Don't give up! It looks amazing! But I've totally been there sooooo many times and if you want to do something different I know it will be fabulous, too! I think it's looking great so far!

Aurora Lucia Marinella said...

I'd reccomend trying it on with a full skirt. I think you are right that it looks top-heavy at the moment but in the pictures you are wearing something very close fitting on the bottom and I suspect the sleeves and collar *need* the full skirt to balance out the effect.

It looks like it will turn out lovely to me!

MrsC said...

I agree about the tulle or organza thing and would add that you press the armscye seam allowance towards the sleeve, not the bodice. It helps force the fullness up and at 'em. Easy.
As for the lapel tailoring, I doubt it needs all that stuff. The lapels are so big they will find their own position with just interfacing and the muslin version looks fine. Don't sweat the small stuff! :) Only suggestion is to put the second layer of interfacing on shaped according to the roll line, which I reckon would be enough. :)

Green Martha said...

In addition to all the good advice you already got, and from what I have learned through my 1898 jacket and my recent tailoring attempts for the [meeep] justaucorps...
- interline the hell out of the sleeve, I used denim in my jacket, and it efinitely wasn't floppy.
- padstitching really doesn't take that long
- it looks like your sleeve is too long,and too wie in the lower part. Having less length of faric under the arm etween armscye and elbow will help keep the poufiness bunched up. Same goes for having the sleeve narrow enough so that it doesn't slip right past your hand.
I hope this helps. I surely am going to read through all yoru adventures, given a tailored mid-890s jacket is on my plate someday pretty soon as well.

Cassidy said...

In one of my classes at FIT, I examined and sketched a ca. 1895 dress - the sleeves were padded with tulle inside the lining, and also had a stiffer inter-/flatlining.

I think your waist is slim enough to make the outfit not unflattering!

Andrea L said...

I haven't been sewing for that long, so I only have a couple of abandoned projects (mostly because I had no place to wear them or a reason to finish them) but I think, especially since Victorian outfits aren't just a whip it up in a couple of evenings type of thing, a lot of what keeps us going is the initial inspiration and that pent up excitement to see the end result. I'm not going to lie and say that what I do sometimes falls below my expectations--more often than not, unfortunately, since I'm one of those people who can't please herself. But since I'm still learning, I chalk it up to that. And after I wear it, other people's reactions reminds me why I fell in love with the initial inspiration in the first place, and it makes all the time, mistakes and cursing worth the effort. Well, most of it.

I ususally rate a "Should I continue this?" as "Do I just need to put this down and work on something else for a while?" or "Do I want to rip up/burn/throw this garbage in the trash?" If it's the latter one, it might need to go to the UFO pile for a bit!

A Soldier's Girl said...

I've seen the sleeve have an "inner" sleeve, fitted much closer, so there was room between the inner and outer to "stuff and fluff" the huge poofy sleeve caps, but that might have been creative engineering on the part of the seamstress.

I think your waist is certainly small enough to pull this outfit off!

Cathy Raymond said...

I think that the jacket looks to be shaping up just fine--you may need to adjust the bottom sleeves for a closer fit and fluff the upper sleeves out with tulle, but I think it's coming along great, even if it feels ugly to you right now.

saraquill said...

Even with the sleeve not being in its fully puffed glory, it has the effect of shrinking your waist.

I sort of have a circular system of projects. I have so many in progress that when my interest in one fails, I pick up another and work on the second. Eventually, after working on three or five other things, I feel refreshed enough to work on the original.

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