Firstly, apologies for the lateness of this post which can be blamed on the Glasgow Subway replacement bus service. I was home rather later than planned the other evening when a 15 minute journey took an hour and 15 minutes. As a result, I didn't get a chance to upload this post as planned.
In the meantime, work has been progressing well on the pattern for the dress and I thought I would share a little of the process of adapting an original pattern to fit.
To begin with, it is wise to have a number of tools and materials handy.
To scale the pattern up to full size, squared pattern paper is a must. The original pattern is printed on squared paper on 1/8inch squares. I marked my centimetre squared paper with a cross every 2.5cm to get square inches. Then, by counting the squares and replicating the lines of the original pattern in relation to the squares made a full size copy of the pattern.
Next, I took measurements of each of the pieces to figure out the size of the original wearer. I made notes on the flat pattern pieces but the most accurate measurements were made after taping the seams with masking tape to put the pattern together. In 3-D form it was much easier to see exactly where the waist and bust of the garment were and to measure for example the arm scye (armhole).
As suspected, she was a tiny lady compared to today's standards. Not only did she have a 24inch waist but she appears to have been very short from the neck to the waist. On the other hand, her bust was surprisingly big in comparison to her waist measurement. However, portraits from this era do show a very wide, high bust line and the gored corset tends to lift and exaggerate the bust.
|Grand Duchess Alexandra Nikolaevna of Russia, Princess of Hesse-Kassel 1840 (image found here) - although probably somewhat exaggerated, this portrait shows the large difference between the bust and waist that was fashionable at this time|
Nevertheless, this made altering the pattern to fit something of a challenge. Since the bust was almost big enough but the waist 5 inches too small, this was not simply a case of adding a bigger seam allowance. Furthermore, the arm syces on the original pattern were extremely small, and whilst tight, low set sleeves were a feature in the 1840s, I needed to do something to ensure that I would be able to move my arms.
My first move was to compare my measurements to the pattern and then, using various calculations to determine the ratios and proportions of each section of the pattern, draw up new pattern pieces. The aim was to ensure the each piece of the pattern retained the same proportion in relation to the others whilst being made bigger. Once I had the general shape, I then altered the lines to reflect the fact that the difference between my bust and waist would not be as exaggerated as that of the lady who originally wore the dress. I won't go into too much detail here as this was quite a technical and mathematical process but please ask questions if you would like to find out more.
|Some of the notes and calculations!|
|Pinning the front - notice the tuck in the side panel below the bust|
|Adding paper to the shoulder and underarms and drawing new seam lines|
|Excess paper trimmed away on the new seam lines|
|Looking like a bodice - the pattern removed from the mannequin|
|The new pattern pieces|