Riennynn the Renaissance & Regency Tailor

Adventures of a part-time seamstress

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Taffeta Venetian (June 2011)
Finally transferred a load of photos off my memory card.  There are things there from over a year ago *groan*... Please excuse the yellowy lighting, my desk lamp casts that weird glow and I haven't had a chance to correct for it in all of the photos.

A much-belated accounting of my taffeta Venetian project.  This was meant as a trial run for the silver Venetian I eventually made for myself, in order to test out some construction techniques.

Descriptions are underneath each picture.

Requisite sewing movie.  I can't count how many times I've watched / listened to A&E's version of Pride and Prejudice when there is a project to tackle.  Always puts me in a costuming mood :)

Lining fabric - lovely heavy cotton twill from Fabric.com in "York flower".
Fashion fabric - medium weight embroidered cream taffeta also from Fabric.com in "Gardena Savannah"

Decided to drape this one over my dressmaker's form rather than use a 2D pattern.  Ideally, I'd do this over a padded and corsetted form that most closely replicates my own shape.  I cut out two large rectangles of the lining and folded them in half.  The fold is pinned at the center front and the fabric smoothed and pinned along the curves of the dress form.  

I marked the wide, squared off neckline and armhole, then carefully cut.  Then I sketched in the deep front V that Venetian bodices are so well known for, following it back and up to the waistline before cutting.  This required a little bit of fiddling and repinning to get everything to sit right.

I pinned the second rectangle onto the back with the fold at center back.  Following a similar process to the front, I smoothed, pinned, sketched, cut, and repinned.  The last photo on the right shows the side seam marked, pinned, and trimmed.  I left a fairly large seam allowance for reasons I'll get into below.

Using the lining pieces as a template, I cut the fashion fabric "right sides" of the bodice.  At this point, I would normally trace this off onto paper to keep for future use, but since this is a practice run with the dress form not even set to my exact measurements, I  didn't worry about it.  Next, I pinned all of the taffeta to the lining pieces, right sides out, and pinned the whole bodice together.

Stitched the side seams and pressed them open.

The extra large seam allowances now come into play, as I fold the raw edges back towards the side seams, press, and stitch in order to create boning channels.

The folded and stitched side seams, trimming the boning to size, and inserting into the channels.  I left the ends of the channels open as I'll be using bias tape to finish all the raw edges later.

The semi-finished bodice pinned to my dress form.  Shoulder straps are fitted together, pinned, and all raw edges turned inwards before stitching.

I used a 100% cotton bias tape (bought off eBay as car headliner tape for CHEAP!) I dyed ecru and the Clover bias tape maker to create seam binding.  Stitched this to the raw edges, beginning with the neckline and armholes.  All corners are mitered for neatness.

Applying the seam binding in progress.

I'm using a skirt I made for Halloween in 2010 where I was an enchantress.  This is about three yards of the taffeta box-pleated with a single line of stitching to hold it together.  I was in a hurry that year - I was sewing and ironing upstairs while prepping for my Halloween party downstairs at the same time - so I didn't bother finishing the waistband, as it would be hidden underneath a corset.  To finish the waistband (finally), I applied more bias tape and machine stitched it down.  The bottom of the skirt is the selvage edge.

The end product displayed on my dress form over an Elizabethan chemise; it should be shown over a full-sleeved Italian camicia, but I hadn't made one by that point.  I also tacked on some eye fasteners and did a quick imitation of ladder lacing.  It's horribly askew, but it gets the idea across.  

On the whole, a successful experiment.  Having had this to practice on, I did end up more comfortable when I made my own gown later in the year, which called for a skirt attached to the bodice.  

I still haven't finished the lacing on this one, but plan to do it soon and get this sold off.

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Thanks for your incredibly detailed method/pictures! Now I can't wait to get home and try something similar...

Thank you! Please do let me know if/when you start your own, I'd love to see photos :)

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