Friday, January 25, 2013

A New Project

I've finished the UFO for the next Historical Sew Fortnightly challenge. The post for that will be coming soon; I got thrown off my posting schedule early this week. ;) In the meantime, here's the unveiling of a project I've been plotting for months!

Last fall, the DFWCG was planning to do a Regency fairy-themed tea party. The tea party plans fell through, so the event was re-cast as the Picnic with the Pixies, not specifically Regency. But I was already in love with my idea. Last week I received the one critical piece that will make it work, so finally, the unveiling of...  

The Paisley Pixie!

I've had lots of inspiration for this idea. I wanted to have a real dress that could easily be de-pixified, so the fairy elements had to be separate from the gown itself.


The biggest influence is Katherine's Regency fairy, with her paper wings made from Jane Austen text. I loved this atypical interpretation of the fairy idea, and I wanted to do something similarly unusual. The "paisley" idea was purely a product of brainstorming back in October. I wanted an idea, or a motif, that is immediately associated with the Regency period, just as Jane Austen is. I thought about authors, the wars, and then textiles - and thought of the "paisley" shawls that dominated European fashion. The Dreamstress wrote about the shawls, and the gowns made from them, in a serendipitous post several weeks ago. ;) So my first thought was go make use of the shawl-like motif.

I've always loved fairy wings; I used to make them out of paper when I was a little girl. :) So wings were a necessity, even apart from Katherine's example. I bought some decent wire-framed wings from Joann's during Halloween, and planned to cover them with scraps of old shawls. But surprise, no scraps were to be found! Even on ebay there were only bits for sale, and they weren't cheap. And my conscience started to poke me at the thought of cutting them up further. In desperation I expanded my searches, and started turning up saris. Saris often have the "paisley" motifs (botehs) spread out or lined up, instead of big and intertwined. And it struck me how like feathers the botehs looked... 

This vintage silk sari (for all of $21) arrived last week: 

Vintage Silk Sari 1 

The botehs in the border are 5-6" long apiece. I'm going to cut them out individually, and place them on the wire frame wings like feathers. I'll use some of the small paisley ground to cover the wire wings, and fill in any blank spots. The silk is very light, like "China" silk. 

Vintage Silk Sari 7 

I'm going to get a big loom bobbin to use for a wand (with paisley streamers??), and remake my failed red velvet bonnet into a tam, with a border from the sari. And either real or paisley feathers, depending on what I have left. So this is definitely a Scottish Paisley fairy, not a Kashmiri fairy. ;)

Depending on what I have left of the sari, the plan is to ornament the rest of the dress. I don't think I'll be able to use the big design on the sari; the skirt will be too full for a border, even if I cut it up and turn the motifs lengthwise. :( Any ideas? 

Vintage Silk Sari 8  

The Gown 

The gown itself had to coordinate with the sari, but the sari was one of the last things I sourced. Without it, the whole outfit falls apart, so that's why I've kept this under wraps until now.

I was undecided on the fabric for quite some time, thinking of the short lengths of mauve and blue wool I have in my stash, and considering ekeing out a sleeveless dress. I've always like the ones in Mrs. Hurst Dancing. Then I found the beautiful crimson wool that I used for Jordi's FMA robe. I deliberately way overbought, so that I could make whatever I wanted with the remnants. Not only is the crimson perfect for coordinating with traditional paisley designs, it is a favorite color of mine and reminds me of Megan's warm and colorful Regency winter gown.

All of my Regency gowns are early Regency, with long drapey and/or trained skirts. To be different I'm aiming for the early/mid 1810s, with shorter, slightly flared skirts and more structured sleeves. I also wanted to do a front-fastening dress. Studying the sleeveless dresses, as well as shawl gowns and wool gowns, I came up with my own idea.

The basic inspiration is this 1815 fashion plate of a red shawl gown. 

The skirt length is perfect, just short enough, but not requiring the visible underskirt. More importantly, I love the look of the short sleeves with long white sleeves. I could have two pair of long sleeves, one muslin, and one self fabric, for three looks. With a moderately-low bodice, this dress can do either day or evening duty in nearly all seasons.

I had some difficulty finding a pattern to adapt. I finally settled on the Patterns of Fashion bib-front gown as a base for the bodice and sleeves. Although it's dated to very early Regency, it's really only the trained skirt (and maybe the very high back waist) that make it so. I've adapted the sleeves, particularly to shorten the top sleeve so it's puffier and no longer than the waistline.

The bib front itself is going to be pleated and drawn in. This silk gown isn't a drop-front dress, but it's almost perfect for copying. I hope the wool doesn't have too much body to do this.

I'm using one of the Hunnisett skirts, one with a lot of flared edges. I'm concerned that a front skirt that falls straight from my ribs will pull across my wide hips, so I'm also cutting down the center front skirt at the waist a little. The apron front should allow plenty of room, but there's no point in taking chances.

For trim, I'm planning on self fringe. Jen's redingote fringe turned out so awesome! I've been seeing fringe in a lot of fashion plates now. I like this one, with a double row at the hem and at the cuffs of the short sleeves.

I love the long sleeves with buttoned wrist strap, so I'll probably do that, and try adding fringe to the strap. And maybe to the long cuff over the hand, too. This will definitely be my entry for the HSF challenge on Trimming. ;)

I'm leaning toward these blousey ones with the doubled frill for my muslin sleeves. I'd probably do the frill in organza or organdy for lots of poof.

I may have some kind of chemisette or tucker as well. I have a chemisette I can use if I run out of time, or if something else becomes priority.

As for accessories: Green or black shoes, and red stockings! And a reticule. I am so bad about remembering a bag to carry with my costumes.

When I haven't been working on my UFO this week, I've been tracing and testing patterns. Last night I made the last bodice and sleeve muslin. I just need to test the pleated apron front now. I'm looking forward to putting this dress together.

1 comment:

  1. This is going to be a lovely project! I cant wait to see it come together.