Saturday, January 5, 2013

Greeting the New Year

With the new year under way, I am assembling the list of things I should like to get completed for my "historical selves" as much as for my contemporary self.

After having decided that we would like to attend Waterloo 2015, I realized that I am going to have to really get started on that regency wardrobe I've been hedging about for the last few years. I started my 1812 corset in February of 2012 (via a phenomenal Burnley and Trowbridge workshop in Nashville, TN) and have been cording away on it since. Technically, it is wearable... I just want to cord the heck out of it to make it sturdy and pretty.

I've also been collecting (not hoarding as some might think) fabric for some lovely regency gowns. I'll need to make a few petticoats for this period and a few shifts, also. I'll be doing all of this by hand with period techniques.

The problems posed: I can't easily drape to form on myself, neither do I have someone able to drape on me who can keep the same hectic schedule I do and is available whenever I have the odd hour or so to work on a project. Thus, in order to facilitate the large quantity of items desired in the most expedient of fashions, I believe I'm going to have to create a body double.

I've been contemplating this for quite some time now, as it is, but have simply been procrastinating. I've seen quite a number of women who have made a variety of doubles for themselves out of all manner of materials. As my husband says, I am not a woman of half measures. I have decided on plaster casting myself to create a mold and then filling said mold with a polyurethane foam. The resulting form will be finished with a cover and voila. I have read many successful attempts at this from women who sew their 21st century clothing. It is my hope that it will lend itself well to the art of mantua-making.

Ideally, while I will attempt this first with my 1812 shape, I would like to create a form of myself for each time period I portray (1760-75, 1780-90, 1800-20, 1870-80's, etc.) Why the number of different forms, you ask? Why not simply make one and then just put on the variety of different undergarments? Well, if you look at the bust shape of 1765 vs 1812 you'll see there is quite a bit of difference. With a hard form that does not mold like flesh does, it would be almost impossible to take my natural body shape, cast it in hard foam, and then reshape it with the undergarments of the period. So, instead, I will cast each mold in the appropriate set of undergarments (namely the appropriate stays/corset- panniers, crinolines, bustles, etc. can all be added to the form post casting) and be able to drape my gowns to their appropriate period's form. It may sound like a lot of work (and it will be) but I firmly believe the benefits of being able to drape on "myself" will far outweigh the initial amount of work required. It will save me time in the long run and allow me to make better use of the time I have to sew.
18th c. Stays in Progress from B&T Workshop

Probably a form for my husband should be in the works, as well. He is lucky in that we will just need one form for him, but we'll need legs on his!

So the form is my big goal to have done by Feb. I'd like to start draping an 1812/14 gown to have done by June.

At another B&T workshop I attended this last November, I drafted and fit a pair of 1760's stays. I am in love with them! I cannot wait to get them all finished (they are my guilty pleasure stays- that teal! Delicious!). I've got to start channeling them soon and then need to order the baleen to fill them with.

While I am still in the process of making my specific garment list, the 1812 body form will be the first order of business. I'll sort the rest out from there!

Stay tuned for what 2013 has in store!

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I would sincerely love to hear your thoughts on all this, so please feel welcome to comment here :-)