So like I said earlier, I wanted to take full advantage of the beautiful embroidered sections of the sari when constructing my gown. As you’ll read below, this had its ups and downs…
First I removed the pallu of the sari (I admit I cringed at the first cut of the shears– what if I screwed it up?) and cut it lengthwise to make two even panels. I immediately ran a zig-zag stitch along the cut edges to prevent fraying. (I actually did this every time I cut an edge that wouldn’t be encased in fabric) The panels aren’t exactly the same– the design is upside-down on one piece because the pallu wasn’t vertically symmetrical, so when I flipped the top half over to act as the hem it didn’t quite match. I figure no one will notice, since that part will be down near my ankles anyway.
I made an underskirt out of dark blue cotton voile, making it only as wide as the pallu pieces at the bottom. I tapered the front panel slightly, but cut the back panel as a rectangle so I could do some– but not too much– pleating in the back. The goal was to reduce bulk at the waistline, but I needed at least *some* pleating in back so both layers of the skirt would fall into nice folds.
For the front panel of the overskirt I cut two 34″ skirt pieces from the part of the sari directly above the pallu– like I did with the cotton Regency sari gown, I wanted to use the side borders to form a double-width embellishment down the center front of the skirt. (Well, almost double-width– I decided it looked better if I omitted the border edges down the center) Additionally, the borders on this portion of the sari weren’t just brocade, they were also embellished with beads, so I wanted them front and center.* Once they were cut out I stitched them together to form a trapezoidal front skirt panel, and attached another long piece of border to the straight bottom edge. This would prove to be a mistake.
*Due to an “oops” on my part, I neglected to notice that the beaded part of the borders stopped about 2/3 of the way along the length of the front panel, and I inadvertently cut the panel so the unbeaded section was at the top rather than at the bottom. Silly of me, really– I should’ve cut it the other way so the beads ran out around knee level rather than waist level. Oh well, can’t change it now…
I will also note that in stitching the beaded borders, I had to be very careful not to break my sewing machine needles on the beads. I tried avoiding them, but ended up breaking two needles and bending a third (mostly on the zig-zag edges I mentioned above) before I gave up and just removed any beads that were remotely near the seam lines. I still had a little trouble due to the metal bullion threads, but those probably just blunted my needles rather than actually breaking them.
I’m going to skip over the bodice and sleeve sections here and leave them for another post. Suffice it to say that I cut those pieces out first and then used most of the remaining sari fabric for the overskirt. I cut it across the width of the sari so the bottom border would already be attached, and used the top border (which I cut off) as the bottom border for that tapered front panel. I attached the rectangular back panel to the trapezoidal front panel, matching the borders *at the bottom*. And there was my mistake.
See, the sides of the front panel were cut on an angle, which meant that while the front and back panels were the same vertical height, the angled edges of the front panel were a few inches longer than the vertical edges of the back. That meant that the back panel didn’t reach all the way to the top of the front, and the sides of the front panel hung closer to the floor than the center did. I had been hoping that I could make up for the extra length by simply pulling the fabric up higher at the sides when stitching it to the bodice, but I neglected to consider that this would create unattractive swagging in front right over my stomach– not a place where one wants extra volume. And with the border along the bottom it was impossible to hem the skirt so it was even all the way around. Talk about a mess! (Sorry, no photos)
I ended up having to unpick the side seams and re-stitch them from the top down– this way I was sure that the sides of the skirt would be no longer than the back skirt panel. Of course, this meant that the front panel now too long at the bottom sides, so I had to unpick the seam attaching the border to the front panel and shift the border upwards to even things out– essentially creating a curved hem for the front panel. Whew!
I didn’t have nearly as much trouble with the underskirt, since it was only slightly angled at the sides and didn’t need to hang prettily in any event, since it was covered up.
Once I finally had the length set, I added a basic placket to the overskirt and a separate one for the underskirt, both made of self-fabric. They were then ready to stitch to the bodice.
I will note that the finished skirts didn’t hang precisely as I would have wanted– the stiff border trim down the center front made the overskirt stiff overall, and the trim around the hem made the sides of the overskirt stand out in a more triangular shape than was appropriate for the early Regency years. Oh, well– at least I got to show off the fabric, right?
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