torsdag 12 februari 2015

18th century part 2 - the test caraco

After finally finishing the underwear (I don’t like corsets!), it was time to move on to the fun parts. But before cutting the silk I had bought for making a polonaise, I wanted to try the pattern with something less expensive. I had bought the 1770 polonaise and petticoat pattern from Period Impressions, with the intentions of keeping it simple, and follow the pattern and instructions. As usually, I soon failed that intention. I decided to make a caraco like the 1775-85 Caraco in Patterns of Fashion 1 as my test garment, so I modified the pattern to look like that one. 

For fabric, I bought long curtains with a large blue floral print at IKEA.  Not totally authentic, but I like it. (And what was left was enough to make nice curtains for our living room of...)

When starting, I found out that I wanted to try some period construction methods. Therefore it is flat lined, with lapped seams, instead of the bag lining method in the pattern. 
Lapped seam at center back

I think it makes sense – with lapped seams on the outside it will be easier to adjust he fit during the construction. I also used a period way of sewing on the sleeves, as described in this tutorial: first sewing the bottom half of the sleeve in the armscye, then putting the dress on a dress form or model and pleating the top part on the shoulder lining to fit the wearer, and then hiding the seam with the shoulder strap pieces. I found it to be easier to manage the sleeves by draping them on my dress form dummy this way than trying to make pleats/gathering stay in shape when setting it in the modern way. I made my caraco sleeves too wide to be historically correct for this period– after a 1570s dress were I could barely get my arms high enough to eat, I wanted to be able to move comfortably in this one. 
Sleeve with pleating hidden under shoulder strap, and close-up of pleated trim

The petticoat is made from a cotton sateen I found in my stash. The different color of the flounce is due to lack of fabric, but I think it turned out quite nice, in a silly-18th-century way. The puffs are inspired by pictures like these, and stuffed with poly fill.
Elisabeth Vigée Le Brun, “Marie-Antoinette se promenant dans un jardin vers 1780-1785.” Wikimedia Commons.

1784 fashion plate from Gallerie des Modes: “L’aimable Constance tenant en lesse un Chien-Lion et rêvant à celui que son coeur aime: sa robe est à la Turque et son chapeau à la Mongolfier, pose sure une baigneuse, et ceint d’un ruban attaché d’une boucle à l’Angloise avec un panache.” Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. 

The trimming on the caraco is the petticoat flounce fabric, and strained my patience a bit as I had to glue the edges of the fabric with fray-check before pleating it. As my fray-check bottle was a bit un-cooperative, I had to use a small brush to apply it. The caraco is closed by being needled together at the front. I like when there are period excuses not to put in all those hooks and eyes for closure!
Caraco and petticoat
When I put it on first time I also realized an additional important point of the corset, except for flat front and squishing you around a bit: it prevents all those bands at waist from strangling you! In my dress, there are four bands at waist: bum pad, back half of under petticoat, back half of petticoat, and the tape that are attached to the caraco back, to make it fit better at back. Plus the fronts of the two petticoats. And I guess the pockets should be attached to a waist band, not pinned on, so there would be another one. Definitly not something I would want without the corset to distribute pressure... 

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