Birthday stitchery

Midway through the summer the big girls go to visit my parents, and for that one week their lives completely change. No schoolwork, no job, no younger siblings to attend to, no catboxes to clean. Nana and Grampa have a dishwasher… ’nuff said. They sleep late and dine out. They go to the ballet and the opera.

This year for her birthday present, Louisa requested that she and I design and sew a special outfit for her to wear for her evening at the opera with her grandparents. Lately, she has become enamored of a style of clothing called Steampunk. Imagine the sort of thing a Jules Vern-esque heroine might wear… if she had a great sense of style and an even greater imagination, that is. That’s steampunk. Much of it is quite odd, (bordering on the bizarre actually) but much of it is delightfully charming. After having a fine time looking at pictures and images online, Louisa and I devised an outfit consisting of a slightly trained brown linen skirt, a cream-colored blouse with an underbust corset worn over top. Of course we didn’t have a pattern for any of this, but we did have duct tape. Lots of duct tape… and the internet, which came in very handy as it turns out.

You know how when you are designing something, you get an image in your mind of how it will turn out? It’s an idealized image, and usually the finished product never quite lives up to that elusive picture you hold in your mind. But this one time the finished product does measure up. This corset looks just how I had hoped and envisioned it. Most importantly, it looks just how Louisa had envisioned it. And it looks great on her.

Feel free to click on the images for enlargements if you’d like to see more of the details. The outer fabric is a polished cotton, the lining unbleached muslin. There are two layers of cotton canvas between to give the garment strength. In lieu of boning, I merely stitched through the multiple thicknesses from the seam allowances. All edges are bound with self bias. The grommets are oversized battered brass, and the lacing is a leather thong. Louisa will be hanging some type of brass bauble or washers or clockwork gears from the ends as soon as she can find just the right sort of something to hang.

Next week, we’ll be making the skirt and I just can’t wait. If there’s one thing I love more than sewing, it’s designing… especially when what you’ve made actually ends up looking OK.

And you know what else? Life is fun. Really, really fun.

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14 Responses to Birthday stitchery

  1. 1
    Prairie Lady says:

    She must model the finished product!

  2. 2
    Jennifer says:

    Very cool! Can't wait to see her all dressed up.

  3. 3
    Barbara H. says:

    That's really neat! Very creative! I hope she models the whole ensemble for us some time.

  4. 4
    Kelley says:

    Oh I do hope that you will share the end results with us!
    How blessed Louisa is to have a mom like you! ♥

  5. 5
    Diane says:

    ladies… i was tempted to show a pic of her with the corset on, it looks so nice and flattering. but she didn't have the right sort of blouse and skirt to really do it justice. we'll be certain to post pictures of the whole ensemble when were are done☺

  6. 6
    Rachel says:

    That is some gorgeeeouussss fabric!!!! Where on earth did you get it, can I find it, and oh my, can I fit it into my already overstuffed fabric closet?!?!?

    And yes, PICTURES!!! Oh please!

    (btw, a friend gave us a big humongous bag of tomatoes today, so we'll be making big batches of tomato soup to can up, first thing tomorrow morning, lol).

  7. 7
    Diane says:

    rachel… the fabric is actually a home dec fabric. we got it years ago for another project but the weight was wrong, so we have oodles of it, lol. it's one of my favorites… i wanted to use it on cushion covers for my wicker porch furniture, but louisa couldn't bear to part with it for such a pedestrian purpose;)

  8. 8
    Ginger says:

    Oh I can not wait to see the final photo's!!

  9. 9
    Jo Flemings says:

    cool! I want pictures too!

    I cant sew to save my life but my daughter costumes- she actually has some very high dollar wares in an etsy shop- I will have to introduce her to steampunk! Are you thinking a tailored blouse for the shirt?

  10. 10
    Diane says:

    mrs b.. hon, you'll get to see the real thing!☺

    oh jo, i'd love to take a look at your daughter's etsy! why don't you share the link with the class?

  11. 11
    Rachel says:

    Oh, I figured as much.

    Pillows. A tote bag. More pillows, with mismatched vintage linens, laces, trims, buttons…fringe…

    Oh, it would be beaauuutiiifulll on a big fluffy featherbed, wouldn't it (or even better, on a chaise in the lady of the house's boudoir? ;-) ).

  12. 12
    Diane says:

    oh rachel.. i hear ya girlie! i've been angling to use that fabric for positively ages, but the girl just won't part with more than a scrap or two. downright cruelty, i call it;)

  13. 13
    Lynn says:

    I would love to see it too. Steampunk. I'd never heard of that! Very interesting. Wish I could sew like you can.

    Lynn

  14. 14
    Diane says:

    lynn… i never heard of steampunk either, until very recently. some of it is just plain weird, lol… but some of it is just so much fun. really allows one's creativity to break out. i really really love that sort of thing!

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