I wanted to use the Period Impressions Polonaise pattern I have had for quite some time, and had never made. It was very easy!
I dove into my stash to see what I could use. Several months ago, my friend had a pile of fabric she was going to donate to the bargain basement sale at costume college. She asked if I wanted any of the pieces before she donated the rest of it. I spied a lovely floral that I thought would someday make a great 18th century piece. I was thinking a caraco (short jacket style) could be cut out of the fabric. It was made by Waverly, called Country Weekend. There was a note pinned to the fabric that said 3 yards, which was good for a caraco. I was going to use the polonaise pattern and see how long I could make the jacket, after I had cut out the bodice pieces. Imagine my surprise when I unfolded the fabric and there were four and one third yards there!
I have always said I am not the greatest sewer. The next thing I had to do was grade up the pattern. It was a size 10, and a 10 I am not! I probably could have done a much better job, but having only one day to sew it, followed by a few evenings to finish up, well..... I could have fit it better. I made a muslin from an old sheet and got it fitted as best I could. Then I cut out the lining. The lining fit fine! I cut out the floral fabric, sewed it together, added the lining - and it didn't close in front! What the heck happened? In a panic, I made an extension piece to add to the front. I put hook and eye tape down the front to fasten it. I was NOT happy with the insert, so I did some fancy cover up and added bows on top. Here is a picture of the insert after I put on the hook and eye tape. **Note - once the whole thing was done, the dress was loose! I am going to cut the insert down to half of what it is now. I can work on it some more and fit it better. No clue how that happened!
Attaching the skirt was a breeze. Once the bodice was done, the skirt panels are just pleated and hand sewed to the inside of the bodice.
The only thing I did not like about the pattern was the way it was bustled in the back. Two buttons are sewed at the back waist. Two cords, 72" each are looped, and sewn underneath the buttons on the inside. To bustle it, pull the cords out from underneath and hook on to the buttons. It just kind of droops in the middle and it won't stay in place. As long as you stand still, it stays arranged, but the minute you walk or sit, it shifts all around. I decided I liked it better without bustling it with the cords, and just wore it down. Now that I have time to fine tune it, I may just bustle it and sew in place from the inside and take off the cords. I am sure the cords are period correct, but I have also seen the poofs sewn in place. They won't shift that way, and I will feel better moving around.
The skirt. A few years ago I made a cranberry linen Victorian outfit. I wore it once and didn't really like it. Rather than sit in my closet unworn, I decided to repurpose it. The skirt was smooth in front and tightly pleated in the back with a slight train. I took it off the waist band, and gathered the waist evenly all the way around. Then I leveled off the hem. Done!
Next, a hat. I have had this hat for about 4 years. I did ruching around the brim and center, and attached a ribbon underneath to tie under my hair in the back. I hot glued it (shhhhh! don't tell)
Here are the results. I will be redoing the bodice to make it fit better.