The workshop was led by Colonial Williamsburg's mistress of the trades of millinery and mantua-making, Janea Whitacre. Janea arrived Friday morning looking like she just walked out of - you guessed it - Meet Felicity, so of course the entire room of ladies sighed and oogled her "Felicity fabric" gown. What little girl at heart can resist that print? Especially when at least two of us (ahem) in the room could very legitimately blame Felicity for our life-long obsession with history and historical fashion? :-)
Demonstrating the art of draping a sleeve.
Our first task, I was overjoyed to hear, would be learning to drape sleeves. If you've read any of our previous "Threaded Bliss" posts, you know how much I struggle with sleeves, both patterning and setting them, and remedying that situation was one of the reasons I really wanted to take this workshop. So here we are, diligently working on our sleeves...
Ashley cutting her sleeves out.
Me working on finishing my sleeves.
As you can see in the picture, Ashley chose to bring a gorgeous "bottle green" lightweight worsted for her gown. She's been saving it in her stash for a couple of years now, waiting to use it on the very first gown she'd make all by herself. I finally decided it was time to muster up the courage to cut into my stash of the CW reproduction print that's copied from the now infamous gown on pages 48 and 49 of What Clothes Reveal. I'm so glad I saved it for a workshop rather than tackling it alone because Janea worked some serious miracles helping me figure out the ideal way to make this impossible print work.
Discussing options and techniques for constructing the gown's back pleats.
Saturday began with finishing up our gown backs that we started the afternoon before, and then we proceeded to draping the bodice fronts. Janea took a slightly different approach to the order of things this time around, opting to have us only concentrate on the top half of our gowns first, to be sure we'd have plenty of time to get adequate help with the perennial trouble spot of fitting shoulders and sleeves before the end of the weekend (I was so glad to know I'm not the only one wary of sleeves!). This is why you see the bottom parts of our gown bodices not yet looking "normal" in most of these pictures!
Draping buddies fitting bodice fronts to backs.
Double-checking back symmetry.
My gown as of Saturday afternoon!
Ashley doing my shoulder straps.
Photo very kindly taken and sent to us by Laurie.
Saturday evening, our homework was to work on shoulder straps and attaching our sleeves, so Ashley and I headed over to Laurie's hotel to see how far we could get. More than slightly delirious from lack of sleep, that ended up not being very far at all...:-)...which was fine in the end because we had plenty of time the next morning to keep working and to get some extra help. I still don't like sleeves, but I definitely feel much more confident about attacking them after all the guidance Janea gave on them throughout the weekend. Laurie did a splendid job fitting mine, and I hope I was at least adequate in my efforts on hers! :-)
Saturday's late-night homework attempts.
Sunday, our final day, was spent finishing up sleeves, shaping the bodice along the waistline, and pleating in the gown skirts. Neither Ashley nor I got that far, but we left well equipped with everything we'd need to finish on our own. Many of the ladies were nearly done with their gowns by the end of the day; I was so impressed by their speed throughout the weekend, and their work came out so lovely.
Finishing the waistline.
Ashley attaching shoulder straps.
Although it was an incredibly busy weekend, it was certainly a productive one, and we're both eagerly anticipating finishing our gowns for upcoming holiday events. Stay tuned for the finished products! Many thanks again to Mistress Janea and the lovely folks at Burnley and Trowbridge for hosting yet another fantastic workshop. We're already looking forward to the next one!
Additional photos from the workshop can be found in our flickr set.
If you're interested in participating in an upcoming historical fashion workshop, keep checking Burnley and Trowbridge's facebook page for the latest list of offerings and soon-to-come spring updates!