As much as I would have loved to make an entirely new sheer.... I really just needed to fix the one that I had.... and so I did.... I hope. I'll start with the reveal. Here is my improved sheer for summer:
Here is the original research for this dress and to follow is the dress as it looked in 2012:
* The first thing that stood out to me about the dress is that the cage was not large enough. This style dress is not intended to be worn over a work hoop of 80". A new cage style made an immediate improvement. (Read about that adventure here)
* Upon taking the dress apart, I decided to work on the sleeves. I started by hemming the under sleeves. It wasn't a huge improvement but I felt really good about it. (here's a picture of just the under-sleeves) Next I moved onto those droopy puffs. They really drove me crazy so I divided each one into two. They stand up much better now. The sleeves also got a trim. I wanted those pretty under-sleeves to show more so the over sleeve was shortened by an inch or so.
* The next item of interest is that I never trimmed the dress. It is in need of 1100+ inches of black blonde. Well, there is no way that I could find that quantity of black silk lace so I am debating other options. I was strongly leaning toward embroidered net instead... and doing the embroidery myself. This is not a difficult task just a very time consuming one..... but much less time consuming than producing the lace from scratch. Now, I've been inspired to add silk ribbon to the bottom of my frills. I'm thinking a bias plaid would look really nice. Now to find the bias plaid silk ribbon... This of course is still not finished.
* On we go to the next improvement, which was able to be made at once. I made a new separate/detached bodice lining from scratch. I love it. Here is where it stood originally:
*Lastly, I got rid of that white collar and remade the bodice. Thankfully I had loads of that sheer fabric left and was able to re-cut an entirely new top. The first thing that I did was to add an extra two inches to the length. I was really stuck on what style to make. For a while I was set on a pin-tucked cross-over bodice (like this) and then I thought an infant style boat-neck (like this) with a white fichu would be better. In the end I went back to my original inspiration fashion plate (here) and a great picture of Emily Todd (here). A simple V-neck was all I did. After all, there is just so much going on with the flounces and puffed sleeves that the dress really didn't need anything fancy for the bodice.
For accessories I picked up a summer hat and borrowed the blue silk sash from my daughter's fancy dress. She never wears it anyway. I also pulled a brooch from my grandmother's jewel box. I think it gives a nice contrast.
I'm also still playing with the idea of a white ruffle fichu. White next to the skin is highly recommended in the 1860s. I especially like how the white over a blue flounced dress looks in this fashion plate.
Over all I think the improvements are taking me in a very good direction. I'm very pleased with it.
Want to know what else I'm dreaming about? Check out my inspiration/research board on Pinterest: