Deep breath. And. IT’S FINISHED! Exactly one month to the day after I started this crazy journey, Ann Croghan’s wedding gown is complete. As you could see in my last post, things were winding down last weekend. The skirt decoration was finished, the dress was shaped like a dress, the lining was in, but there was still a ways to go.
As you may remember from my first post about this project, the sleeves were inspired by these from an original 1822 wedding gown:
The first step was to cut out the pieces. The white piece is a bit larger than the blue so that it can get gathered in the center. I carefully drew and cut out the teardrop shapes so that the blue would show through.
But, of course, when you cut a bunch of holes in your fabric, you have to do something to keep it from falling apart, so I bound the edges of the slashes in blue.
While that was a long and fiddly task, the tricky part was doing the little button loops that contain the excess fabric between each set of slashes.
Once those were done, I just wrapped them through the slashes, secured the button, arranged the extra fabric how I liked it, and stitched them in place.
When the sleeve pieces were sitting on the table after I’d cut them out, Brandon walked by and asked “What are those football things?”
“No they’re not.”
“Seriously. I promise. They will one day look like sleeves!”
So I set out to prove that they would indeed, someday look like sleeeves. The first step was to gather the lower part of the sleeve into the sleeve band, then to sew the underarm seam to form a ring. (No picture of that since I figured you’d seen enough pictures of me sewing a seam that could or could not be the one I was talking about).
And then to fold under the sleeve binding and stitch it in place to create a nice edge. See? Now they look like sleeves (sort of). It’s easy to forget how bizarre pattern pieces look unless you know what you’re looking at.
Here’s what I get for doing things out of the natural order. I had to wrestle with the entire heavy dress while I gathered the sleeves onto the bodice and stitched them in place. But look how pretty! The puffs are longer and the extra fabric in the center a bit less than in the inspiration, but I’ll take it!
But puffs weren’t the only part of the sleeves! I used the white fabric with no blue underneath to create the rest of the sleeve, so that it would be a little sheer, and stitched it to the inside of the sleeve band on the puff.
As we all know, every wedding dress could use more lace! So I added some at the cuff and sleeve band.
We’re down to the smallest finishing touches now!
That’s it! With that final anticlimactic and interminable seam, I was finished! The height of the skirt back may need a bit of adjustment once I’ve completed my corded petticoat and tried it on, but here it is!
Once again, I couldn’t have done this without help from some fantastic ladies! I can’t wait to show you all the rest of the outfit as it comes together (or maybe I’ll make you wait until July to see it all together!). If you possibly can, don’t forget to come to the Locust Grove Historic Picnic on July 18th. You’ll get to see the dress in action at a period ceremony, plus lots of other fun stuff including dancing, a reading by the Kentucky Shakespeare Company and much more!
Thanks for watching!
To see the entire finished ensemble, click here!