Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Green Dress.... getting paid to have fun!

Yes, one can get paid to have fun. Having been lucky enough to have that much fun, I just have to share this one too.

A patron of the ballet bid to have a walk-on part in the annual production of the Nutcracker, one night only (not recently). The problem was that the front office forgot to mention the situation to the costume shop for a few months - bidding was in the Spring. We started the costume in late November, a couple weeks before that year's run was to begin. Something to be said for communications, huh? Any way, we had to scramble to build a costume because we had no spare costumes suitable for the party scene, for an extra person.

We also didn't have funds to spend on this project. My boss handed me the project and said, "do what ever you want with this - have fun", and then handed me the green fabric and said, "but use this." What could I say - cool fabric and a free hand. The plaid fabric was a donated silk taffeta, and there was only a limited quantity, in 3 or 4 smallish sections. I couldn't spend much on trims, but I had an idea.

I picked the 1857 Walking Dress from the Wisconsin Historical Society pattern line. This pattern has since been published by Simplicity. It has a blue sample dress on the envelope cover. For our purposes, the skirt was slimmed down slightly and the petticoats were minimized.

The front of the dress was made as if to open, per the instructions, but then invisibly stitched permanently shut. The back seam was finished with facings and hooks and bars.

The trim was where I really had a ball. I cut strips of the taffeta, selvage-to-selvage, about 8" long. I hemmed one edge, and ran gathers about every 6", across the 8" length. The gathers were pulled up and tied and a gold, gimp-type trim was sewn to the raw edge, making a really nice trim - not period at all, but nice. The original pattern called for fringe but we used the custom trim wherever the fringe would have gone. The front is accented with a couple of Josephine knots in green rattail, with purchased tassels attached.

The gimp trim, backed with a bit of scrap lace, made for a nice accent on the collar.

The cuff, plain white cotton edged with the same lace as the collar, is attached to a removable undersleeve of the plaid taffeta.

I started this post several months ago, back when I started this blog. I know I intended to type more about this project, but can't remember what I had in mind so, here it is!

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