Sunday, January 11, 2015

Little House natural form dress

I'm planning on going to Costume College again this summer, and it is never too early to start making dresses!  The theme for this year is "Plucked from the Pages", so a couple of my friends and I are planning on wearing Little House on the Prairie inspired outfits for one of the days while we are there.  I have been obsessed with all things "Little House" for most of my life, so I decided to make a very simple wool natural form gown that would be right at home on the prairie during the early 1880's, which is when the last few books took place.  I remember spending many hours of my childhood (and adulthood!) pouring over the illustrations in those books and re-reading the passages that described their dresses.  Although my outfit isn't meant to copy one specific dress from the book, I was definitely influenced by several of the charming illustrations and descriptions from the series when coming up with my design.

I also wanted to have something new to wear this weekend for an outing to the museum with the DFWCG. The wool that this dress is made from is quite heavy, which makes it warm and cozy for winter. Plus, the narrow skirts and lack of a train made it much more manageable around crowds, which was nice since the museum was packed. Unfortunately, I ran short on time and didn't get to fine-tune my outfit as much as I would have liked, so I'll probably go back and made a few minor adjustments before it gets a second wearing a Costume College. I know these are nit-picky things, but the peplum is a little unruly and refused to lay flat in back, the collar and cuffs need a bit of lace, and the velvet collar seems a bit awkward to my eyes. Is it too wide? Should it be wool? Or maybe I just need to add some ribbons or a lace cravat to dress it up some more? I haven't completely worked a solution just yet, but luckily I have 7 months to mull it over.

I used the same basic bodice pattern that I used last summer for my plaid dress, and I reused my bonnet from that project too since the colors looked so pretty with the maroon.  The overkskirt pattern was drafted from the 1880 "sateen dress" diagram in Fashions of the Gilded Age Vol 1.  I discovered that the front of the overskirt was a lot longer in real life than the illustration shows, and I had to add in extra pleats to make it match up with the back panel correctly. But that's okay because I like the look of the longer skirt just as well. I also used two straps of wide elastic to keep the overskirt pulled back tightly, and that seemed to help the draping of the front a lot while still giving me freedom to move.

My favorite part of the dress is the set of antique Victorian buttons on the bodice, which are nothing exciting in photos, but I think they are quite pretty in real life. I love being able to use old buttons on a new dress. It's such a fun finishing touch.

I also got to wear my fur capelet again, which made me incredibly happy. It's so warm in Texas that it's always a treat when I can find an excuse to wear coats and capes!

As usual, here are some of my favorite photos, and there are a few more additional pics on flickr.