Saturday, 8 March 2014

Tunic Or Not Tunic?- That Is The Question.

Here are a couple of pictures of my latest costume creation. 
This is a silk tunic, made from an old long skirt in a beautiful shade of turquoise. I had to make it from an online picture of the front of a 1913 dressmaking pattern, as I didn't have time to wait for the pattern itself to arrive from the USA.  

It is a versatile piece designed to be worn with a skirt, which can be either attached, or separate, as mine is, and the tunic can be worn alone or with a blouse underneath. I'll be wearing it without a blouse (but with a tiara!) as singer Gwendoline Brogden for Down Among The Wines And Spirits, and with a blouse and THE enormous Edwardian hat as Elizabeth Mickleburgh-Kett for Gressenhall's 'Murder Most Grave' Museums At Night Event (scroll down to 16th/17th May on their website for full details).

It was, as these things usually are, trickier than it looked. For one thing, I was making it for myself, which makes fitting sessions difficult. I was also converting a circular skirt and although I had plenty of fabric, the grain was going in all the wrong directions due to the cut. As a result, the skirt of the tunic didn't fall quite right. Therefore, the inside of the garment doesn't bear close scrutiny because of the numerous, finicky adjustments I had to make. It's still not perfect, but will just about 'do' for on stage.

However, the finished piece looks pretty nice -that wonky bottom edge has been adjusted since I took these photos- and it's just right for 1913. As it's a stage costume, the silhouette of it and the overall effect is the most important thing. So it is a bit Belle Epoque- floaty with a slightly raised waistline and soft gathers over the bust - and I decorated it with some vintage sparkly bits. I think they're actually 1940s, but they look eminently suitable. The blue waistband and collar tone in with the skirt (original 1914) and I did a nice-but-fiddly oversewn finish along the raw silk edges. 

And all this on a borrowed sewing machine. Within an hour of beginning, I put the wrong sort of bobbin in my much-lauded new Singer, and knocked out the timing, so it had to go to the repairers (not cheap).

Instantaneous practical rescue was available: luckily a friend was able to lend her machine to me for the three allocated days of half-term I had in which to make the darn thing. 
And my Other Half provided emotional rescue (yes, it really was necessary) in the form of my favourite biscuits, Lemon Puffs. 

It was a good lesson. Because it was a borrowed machine, I was more careful than I usually am, and reaped the benefits. Aesop's Hare and Tortoise would have approved- as did my cat!

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