Tuesday, 17 May 2011

1973 Toile Development Evaluation

The darts of the front of the bodice were my first challenge to make aesthetically pleasing. This was because of the different shape of the mannequin to that of the original garment, the underwear, although I attempted to replicate the shape as accurately as possible, would have been different and generally the sizing and body shape would have not been the same. This resulted in me having to extend the length of the darts much further down the front of the bodice than that of the design and pattern. I tried my best to keep the as short as possible but to achieve the right fit they had to be made longer. I was not happy about this at first but as the toile developed this feature was not really noticeable.

The length of the dart here can be seen to be much longer than that of the pattern, in particular the dart nearest the centre front. This was necessary to make the piece fit and did not end up being noticeable as the longer dart was covered by the front decorative panel.
This was my initial attempt at the shape of the hem, later on it can be seen to drop quite a bit to match the length of the underskirt which shallows out the curve. It is almost a shame as I quite liked the curve created here, however the designs hem line is somewhere between the two, which proportionally to the length of the underskirt in the pattern does not work.
I found with the first part of the construction of the bodice I was not giving myself enough fabric to work with. I discovered, with this later style of princess line dress, the change in shape from the top half to the lower half is more than it looks and the volume of fabric needed is much more.The box pleats at the back of the bodice were another example of this. I had followed the pattern in its sizing for the pleats but when constructed on the mannequin there was not nearly enough depth in the pleats for them to sit right. I have learnt steadily through out the project that the pattern is only a guide and that I should allow my self big allowances of fabric when drafting on the stand.

The pleats initially looked a little flat and were creating knife pleats rather than box pleats as specified by the design because there was not enough fabric. The pattern of the design has the seam, of the back and side pieces, sitting in the fold of the pleat rather than the pieces being evenly spaced so it was a bit of a challenge to space them evenly but I achieved it in the end.

I was pleased with the result although on reflection I think I could have made the depth of the pleats even larger. I was particularly pleased with the decorative stitching that I added to represent the edging and I think it works well with all the different levels of hem.
I found the hardest part of this toile was the rouching of the fabric with the tape pieces. It was very time consuming trying to get the opposite sides semetrical especially with the pleats that had to form again from underneath. I re-worked this section of the dress at least four times until I could get it to work. The pleats I did even more than this as I found once swing catched  they could sometimes move exposing the stitching so I had to start again. The placing of the tape was not as straight forward as I had thought as I added it after sewing the skirt together, this was possibly a fatal flaw and resulted in the challenging factor of getting the underskirt even. The pleats also contributed to this, as the tape was not wide enough to cover the length of some of the pleat one side would drop ruining the whole shape of the rouching and the pleat. I solved this by adding an extra length of tape that hung off the main tape to hold the other side of the wide box pleats.
This was one of the earliest attempts to create the rouching effect with the skirt. I was not happy with the way the fabric was falling and went on to change it numerous times after right up until the end.

The levels of the under-skirt look right from the side in proportion to the rest of the dress here , and these didn't really change, it was just the sit of the pleats underneath that was the main problem.
The general construction of the under-skirt I found quite interesting. The pattern did not explain how the large amount of fabric fitted into the small space at the back so I had to look at the design for a solution. Eventually our assisting tutor Dexter and I worked out that the skirt was pleated at the top. This pleating followed through to the pleating lower down, being interrupted by the tapes in the middle. This was really hard to make work and took a long time with many attempts to get the pleats straight and looking nice. As I've said this was partly due to the tape but also because of the seams in the underskirt which made the pleats twist. I think this element of the piece would have worked better if the underskirt had been constructed from two opposite panels. If I was going to produce the piece in top fabric I would have tried this method to see if it worked. I think the reason for the three panels of each side of the underskirt may have been due to the limited widths of fabric in the 19th century meaning they would not have been able to create such a large piece.

I think the finishing inside of my underskirt does not match the standard of the rest of the toile and I am slightly disappointed with this. I did not have enough time to complete it to a high standard and just had to focus on getting the pieces to look right from the outside. I was also slightly dismayed that I didnt have enough time to attach all the buttons I had covered, as this was quite a design feature of the piece. However other things had priority and I think I managed to complete everything necessary.
To compensate for not managing to complete all the buttons I had to draw on in pencil the remaining buttons. This was not the effect I wanted but had to be done to save time. I may sew on the rest of the buttons after hand  in to complete the piece.
I was most pleased with the result of my piping of the cuffs and decorative panel. These were elements to the design that I had some apprehension about undertaking as I knew they would be time consuming. But as I had stated in my brief that this final toile was to be a presentable costume piece, I felt it would look much more aesthetically pleasing if the decorative parts were fully complete. This put a lot of extra stress on myself up to the deadline, leaving me a day to finish my blog however I was glad I completed it as it really makes the piece.


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