Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Tis the Season To Be Festive!

I know what you're thinking.  "That was FAST!"  But, the holidays are here!  There's no time to waste.  And as you know from my last post, Louise was to get a new Christmas gown to coordinate with brother Lawrence's outfit.  The very minute I finished his little suit, I began her party dress.

Disappointed that I had to change color themes at the last minute, I dug deeply into my cabinet of silks and found this gorgeous purple-blue and red plaid.  I know its been there a very long time since it was way, way in back of the piles.  And, there wasn't much of it either.  I think the piece was half a yard of 45", and I was cautiously concerned that I wouldn't have enough.  Its not the length and width so much that one worries over, but the ability to cut on the bias, the diagonal, for trim!

Plaids are a favorite of mine, especially for the holidays since the colors can be so brilliant and festive.  I didn't have much time to think about designing this dress either, and maybe that was a good thing, since I way over thought Lawrence's velveteen suit.  Did I mention that it took me half a roll of paper towels to make the patterns for his suit?  I must have been having quite the day.

When I do look for ideas for Louise,  Sylvia Mac Neil's Chiffonette book has become one of my favorite sources.  Its not that the costumes vary so much that intrigues me, but the variety of ways she made up all those outfits from just a few patterns.  It was the collar from one of these dresses that inspired Louise's Christmas dress, and I think she only did this collar once.  Louise's was done with piping.

The vogue for tartan-like plaids, whether associated with clans or not, was fueled by the affection Queen Victoria and Prince Albert had for the Scottish dress, the Highlands, and Balmoral, their Scottish retreat.  But, for all ostensible historicism implicit in the wearing of the plaid, its bold colors were the result of the invention of chemical dyes in the mid 1850s.

About half way through designing and fitting this dress onto Louise's body, I became dismayed.  Something just wasn't right about the look.  She'd been wearing her high neck, and front pleated chemise, with the three-quarter puffed sleeves.  I thought surely this should look lovely with the new dress, but it didn't.  This was wishful thinking.  I've only made two of these chemise's, and her friend, Laura, is wearing the other. 

So I had another look in the "the book" and was reminded that one of Chiffonette's chemise's had a rounded, or Peter Pan collar - only hers was done in lace.  I was not looking forward to this set back, but felt that adding this under piece would be beneficial to future dresses, and it would look better with her Christmas gown.  Again, this chemise was a case of over thinking something.

You know I really do not like making collars, but it seems that so many wonderful dresses and blouses begin with a beautiful collar.  So I suffer through them.  Usually I'm lucky enough that I'll be lining the piece so the seaming doesn't show but in this case, the sheerness of the chemise had me going in circles with how to finish it.  It could not be lined.  Yes, I do know what a facing is, but for some reason making it just as nice on the side we do not see, was perplexing me.  After some fussing and fuming, I edged the facing with a simple zig-zag, then tacked it down at the shoulder seams and through the front pleats so it lay firmly in place.  The collar and cuffs are edged in lace, and there's a "panel" of lace down the front.  Four tiny white buttons close it in the back, just down to the waist.

Back to the dress.  Now that we had that in order, I began first with making the piping.  I would prefer that the piping was not pieced together, but with so little fabric to work with, it was necessary.  It was "fun" trying to get the plaid matching and going in the same direction on the diagonal.  For the collar, this time we had the ease of finishing the edge since the bodice is lined, as is the skirt.  I wanted something different, a different look than Sylvia's dress for Chiffonette, so I made little rounded epaulets coming off the shoulders.  These, too, are piped.  There is piping at the waist of the dress as well, which precluded me from having to make a sash that would tie in a bow at the back of the waist.  Although one with fringed ends would have looked pretty, I wanted a matching hair bow.  I could update this dress at some point with a sash of black silk and fringe just for a change of appearance.   Small, shiny black buttons decorate the left and right edges of the collar and one button tops the centers of the epaulets.

The other details include a bias band at the hem (pieced together), and box pleating at the waist.  I  had just enough left over for a bow for her hair. 

Why was I in such a hurry to get this done?  Well, because its Christmas!  Most of November, and the rest of the next two weeks, or less I hope, has been, and will be spent making Christmas gifts.  Each gift is a little project on its own, but so important as these are gifts of love.  And, that is what Christmas is all about.  And, Hallmark movies, Christmas specials.  And decorated trees and homes, and noshing on nibbles we only eat Christmas time!

While searching for a few lovely Christmas themed images to correspond with this posting, I came across a surprise.  A Christmas special was made for the PBS series, Victoria!  The only information I could find was that the DVDs would be available on December 26th (thank you very much) and shipping from the U.K.  I have no idea if it will air this season in the states, but I'll be on the look out. ( See below for the cover of the DVD.)  If you know anything about this, please post to me (us).

Lawrence and Louise are excited and looking forward to the merry making of this holiday season.  They are now dressed and ready to begin the festivities which they can enjoy (I can enjoy!), the entire month.  My wish for you, is to have one of the very best holiday seasons ever.  Merry Christmas one and all!

Miss E. Mouse 

1 comment:

  1. These two outfits are so beautiful and festive for Christmas, I love the Lawrence's blue velveteen....it's so rich! Reading your blog is so interesting and actually becomes a history lesson that is very fascinating! Your outfits are such a treat to see. Hugs, Lori