The Fitting

I hope everyone had a lovely new years eve and new years day! How did I spend it, you might ask? Sewing a petticoat and fitting the current pieces! As I've said before, I will be posting a series of posts focusing on each piece included in the garment with a quick how I did at as well as notes on what I would do differently later, etc. so stay tuned for those!

For the fitting, we had the following pieces:

- stays (toile)

- panniers

- split rump bum pad

- under petticoat

- gown bodice (toile)

Fittings are an incredibly important step in the garment building process, especially with you are dealing with undergarments and structures that will alter the shape and posture of the wearer. Something as simple as a chemise makes, even slight, changes to the body (though this isn't necessarily something one needs to account for as it is so minimal). What we do need to put great consideration into, in this garment in particular, are the stays, panniers and bum pad. The stays alter the torso shape, flatting and lifting the bust, as well as narrowing the waist. The panniers will widen the hips and the bum pad will increase the rump so these things have a great impact in the shape of all the garments worn over top of them.

To the left you'll find my lovely cousin in the stays, pannier and bum pad. I have not yet made the chemise (as it seems the least of my concerns in getting this project done at the moment), but will hopefully get to it before the due date! For now, we start with the most important bits. As you can see, the undergarments and structures have given her that distinct Rococo shape and this shape will affect the way the petticoats and gown hang from her body.

For example, the hem of the petticoat needs to be marked while it is worn over the panniers and bum pad for it to be even all the way around. Also, the waistbands of all the pieces need to be marked while worn over the stays.

I've made a few pairs of panniers in the past and they're a fun little piece to make that can be as plain or as fancy as you like. I very much enjoy a little embellishment myself! I've included the ties at the bottom in the front and back to pull the panniers into the body to control the shape a bit and prevent them from shifting about.

In the picture below, you can see how the petticoat hangs from the panniers and bum pad. If you look at the hem, you can see how it begins to lift on the sides and it continues to do this around the back. Unfortunately, it was not my intention for the petticoat to be less than floor length, but I miscalculated and did not fully take the panniers and bum pad into account when cutting the length. Luckily, there is still a pleated flounce to be added to the hem that will make up for my miscalculation! Just goes to show how much of a difference understructures make to the garments worn over. If you look at the left top of the hip, you can see a little opening in the petticoat, this is for the pockets! They will hang inside the panniers and be accessible through the petticoats like this.

In the next photos, you can see how the bodice toile fit. I used a pattern from the Janet Arnold Patterns of Fashion 1 for a dress from the Snowshill Manor collection. The pattern is specifically for a robe a l'Anglaise retroussee/a la Polonaise and while the sleeve fit quite well, I've ultimately decided to take the style lines from this pattern and draft a bodice from scratch. It can be quite tricky to fit patterns from these kinds of books because they are taken from historical garments and drafted to those sizes. These patterns don't always included fit lines (waist, bust, etc.) for easy alteration so it can take quite a bit of time, research and effort to alter them to the modern body. Additionally, this pattern was specifically designed to closed at the centre front and per my design, I will be doing an open front with a stomacher (like other gowns of the period). You can also see that there are many alterations that would be needed to make this particular pattern suit my needs. So with those things in mind, I concluded that it will be faster, easier and more reliable for me to draft a bodice from scratch and make use of my knowledge and research for the period to make a bodice that will fit. I will also be using the sleeve pattern from the original pattern (with a minor tweak) as it fit quite well.

In the picture to the left, you can see a gap in the petticoat, this will be closed with hooks and bars and the over petticoat will be the same. Again, you can see that the hem does not hang evenly around. This will be remedied by marking it with a hem marker, a clever little tool that stands on the ground and spits chalk out of a canister. The height of the cannister can be adjusted so it makes marker and even hem fantastically simple, especially when my garment is so terribly uneven right now. Much easier, more reliable and more accurate than measuring and marking with pins. Plus I don't have to lay on the floor!

That's all for the fitting! I am very much looking forward to finally building the outer pieces an sharing that journey with you as well. As mentioned before, stay tuned for posts on the individual pieces coming this week!

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