The Civilian Symposium is full of highlights, but the most anticipated is the reveal of the "fabric" - each year all the female presenters receive a dress-length of fabric, with the instructions of "make a garment." Gentlemen receive a vest-length of a differing fabric.
This years fabric was an Italian cotton, in a fairly large scale, woven plaid. It had a very fine hand, much more like a wool challis than cotton.
The reveal looks a bit like this, except multiplied times 4 or 5!
Once in a while, the fabric immediately "speaks" and tells me exactly what it would like to become; other times (this time) it remains silent,leaving me to figure it out alone.
I started going through the many, many photos of original garments I've taken over the years and then through all the books and exhibit catalogs in my library.
Doing so caused my to notice something: plaids of this scale were nearly always wool or silk, not cotton. But I did come up with some possibilities:
1.) This one is in the Kent State University Museum collection. I've always liked the "bodice trimmed like a jacket" concept, but haven't yet constructed one. I also happen to have yards and yards of pale blue soutache that I could have used for the trim. But I decided against it; the fabric just seemed to casual for this dress.
2.) This a wool dress, the plaid being approximately the same scale as the provided cotton. The peplum, is actually a separate belt.It would have been a good choice, but it just didn't thrill me - I prefer something that will be a bit more of a challenge to figure out.
3.) This was my fall-back: if I didn't come up with any other ideas, I would make this one - at least it had an interesting sleeve! But I did find something else...
I had a chance to go off Island and took the opportunity to look for some coordinating fabric that might open up the possibilities:
Which lead to...
4.) But I came to the conclusion that the plaid was just too big, the sash would have been 20" wide!
Maybe a late 50's look?
5.) I drafted out this "tunic body" and even managed to make it fit with some tweaking, but it just would NOT work in the plaid - too many lines and angles coming together in strange ways. I do plan to make this in a solid silk or wool.
AND THEN I FOUND IT!!!!!
6.) Something interesting that would provide a slight challenge!
The fashion plate dates to November of 1859, I wasn't able to find a written description, but I'm fairly certain that either silk or wool was suggested.However, the cotton felt and behaves so much like a thin wool, I decided to go for it.
Do to fabric constraints, I went with a small 90" hoop. I would have liked to suspend the bottom flounce from the top of the trim fabric, so it would look like a separate skirt, but there just wasn't enough fabric. I also plan on adding one more bow. I decided against going with a true pagoda, but did create a full bottom flounce for the sleeve and added a large open undersleeve.
And here are the other presenters: