She came to me with a vision: a gown with old Hollywood glamor, with batwing sleeves, V-neck front and back, and a fitted torso. I said I'd help, but she would do the work, and our deal was struck!
THE SPUR SHEET!
The fabric Eryn chose came from the Goodwill Bins, and was an old polyester satin bedsheet. (Don't we sewists all start with second-hand bedsheets and curtains? Where else can we get yardage for cheap?) It was clean (she washed it!), but a bit worse for wear, with the strange nicks and dents that satin gets sometimes. She wondered what had weathered it so, and I was reminded of Grandmother's tale of the visit of Lafayette, in An Old-Fashioned Girl:
". . . one of his officers, a count, signalized himself by getting very tipsy, and going to bed with his boots and spurs on, which caused the destruction of aunt's best yellow damask coverlet, for the restless sleeper kicked it into rags by morning. Aunt valued it very much, even in its tattered condition, and kept it a long while, as a memorial of her distinguished guests."
So we dubbed the poor piece of satin the "spur sheet" and set to work on it!
I draped the pattern in muslin, directly on Eryn's body. We started with the waist-yoke, making a corselet-style pattern in quarters: there was a CB seam and two side seams, and a CF opening. Next, I draped the sleeves, and here I figured out the answer to the structural problem of making a V-neck front and back, while still having the bodice stay up on the shoulders. Here's a rough drawing of the two-piece sleeve pattern I made in muslin:
Though I draped it in two pieces, (the back piece smaller than the front, because the front had to go over the bosom), I then combined them into one pattern piece by taping the shoulder seam together. On the finished garment, the sleeve is one-piece. The obtuse angle of the the neckline with the corner at the shoulder/neck is essential to structure, and is how we got a V-neck in front and in back, but avoided the problem of the top falling open as if hinged at the waist!
The CF closure is dog-legged: the yoke closes in Center Front with hooks and eyes, but then the under-lap of the skirt snaps to the side; this keeps the slit from gaping open all the way up to the crotch. You can see the underlap as a dotted line in my original doodle.
As for the shape of the skirt, we simply took what was left of the sheet and sewed it on in gores. At the last minute, we improvised a triangular gusset in the Center Back like a little train.
Eryn and I both liked how the gown came out, generally, but felt that the yoke and skirt joining needed more work. Alas, time and materials were scarce, so the dress had to go out the door in a less than perfect state. Nevertheless, on the night of the soiree, Eryn improvised a belt and swanned out to impress all and sundry!
Not bad for a spur sheet! Not bad for Eryn's first project... way to go, lady!
Quilting, dressmaking, and history plied with the needle...
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