February: Re-Make, Re-Use, Re-Fashion - Sew something that pays homage to the historical idea of re-using, re-making and re-fashioning. Turn one thing into another. Re-fit or re-fashion an old gown into something you would wear again. Re-trim a hat for a new outfit, or re-shape a modern hat to be a historical hat. Re-purpose the fabric from an old garment (your own or a commercial one) into a new garment.
This is always a fun sort of challenge, for many reasons: it's very useful to force oneself to look at garment with new eyes, and to make do rather than to start over – as most wannabe-costumers I don't exactly need help to expand my wardrobe, and re-make, re-use, re-fashion should be done more in general. It also fit perfectly with my schedule for once. I heard of this larp called ”Fortune and Felicity”, thought ”oh wonderful idea, but that's just not going to happen.” Enter a group of larpers I got to know over the course of two Fairweather manor larps (this dress and this one, this blog is not the worst way for me to keep track of my larping). Somehow, I ended up signing up as soon as the tickets were out. Which meant that in two and half months, filled with intense work and larping, I should also sort out a Regency wardrobe. Totally new period to me. Of course, and little or no time to browse for fabric.
And then it dawned on me: in 2001-02 somewhere I needed a ballgown. My mother did it, and before she cut into the proper fabric she of course made a mockup, in a blue and white printed cotton that was lying about at home for unknown reasons. So in the wardrobe back home it still was; a cotton dress with slightly raised waist and puffed sleeves, although not at all strikingly Regency – it could be.
Disclaimer: yes, apparently I sew by night, in worst possibly photo light conditions. It has been that kind of spring.
So I brought it with me, basically opened every seam in the bodice, took out the lining (same fabric as the outside, and neither I nor my mother will ever understand why she bothered lining a mockup) and got started. I
ripped the sleeves apart, used some of the lining and pieced together proper puffed Regency sleeves
added a small piece under the arm to make the armhole smaller and increase mobility
ripped apart the back and sewed it back together, raising the back neckline (to keep the shoulders from sliding down), and taking it in partly by adding the signature diagonal side-back seams
raised the waist as much as I could without making the skirt to short. I could have lifted it another inch, to improve the look, but alas, one can't have everything
reattached the skirt, gathering as much of the width as possible in the back
added blue-ish mother-of-pearl buttons down the back
added some white linen to neckline insides, to stabilise it. In hindsight, I should have just lined the bodice since it's a bit too thin. But with a petticoat and shift under it, it's ok anyway.
Or actually it wasn't. Just before the larp my mother found the rest of the fabric (4 metres of it no less!). Seems I hadn't needed be quite so thrifty after all – but now I could (mere minutes before the larp) add long sleeves. I also, technically, could make another dress out of the remaining fabric. Might actually do that at some point. Later. Because free stash fabric and I quite like Regency fashion despite how silly it is.
If, by some lucky chance, there are better pictures of the finished garment worn I will update later, but for now:
What the item is: Regency dress
The Challenge, and how this item fulfills it: Re-make, re-use, re-fashion: This is the mockup a ballgown my mother made for me about fifteen years ago, modern pattern with a slightly raised waist, and I redid it to work for a larp this spring. I picked it apart in about a thousand pieces and put it back together, using the lining (same as outer fabric) in the bodice to alter the back and sleeves, and lifted the waistline about two inches.
Pattern: None, apart from the sleeves where I used Sense and sensibility's pattern
Notions: Polyester thread (it's machine sewn), mother-of-pearl buttons
How historically accurate is it? In the "use an old garment and remake into something new" - totally. In the "accuracy" sense? Nah, maybe 50%
Hours to complete: Far too many, got distracted a lot.
First worn: At the larp Fortune and Felicity, at Medevi Brunn 24-28 May 2017.
Total cost: This time I -will- claim the fabric was for free, since it's reused. About five euros for buttons.