I had to skip October’s Sew Monthly project, but I’m back for November! And since this is Texas, we’ve got Dickens on the Strand coming up. Technically, it’s supposed to be the time period Dickens was alive, but… yeah, nobody sticks to that.
I’ve got that lovely plaid 1880s dress from our tragically under-attended picnic I can wear. Maybe not in exactly the same way, though, because I really wanted to make… this…
Isn’t it gorgeous? I’m slightly obsessed with dolmans. I mean, LOOK at this! So simple, so elegant, so red.
I’ve slowly been gathering all the supplies. Six yards of white velvet and all the dye stuff. Linen interlining. Black lining fabric. Styrofoam balls. Hook and eye tape. My Bustle Fashions book, with its original therefore incomprehensible patterns. And some great inspiration.
My first step was completing the mock up. I used the “short dolman” pattern from Bustle Fashions.
My apportioning trick did not work as well on this jacket as it did on the last one, which might have been a math error on my part; I had to widen the front about an inch over my bust, and lower the waist by about an inch overall. Since you want the sleeve to start right at the bend of the waist, this meant adding width to the sleeve as well. I also had hell with the front dart, and had to do something that is probably not period (taking the dart all the way down to the bottom edge). However, the pattern came together very quickly, in only a couple of hours, and I think it looks very nice.
The worst part about this is trying to figure out how to set the sleeve (you can see my initial confusion in how it’s turned here). The lower portion sits in the seam between the back and side back, which is easy to deduce from both the instructions and examples I can find online. I’ve also seen it suggested that the bottom of the sleeve does not attach to the underside of the bodice.. I have no idea why. At least the arm gives plenty of room for movement. The Modern Mantua Maker has a great post on her dolman construction, but sadly, the photos are no longer linked.
However, the thing fits and looks right. That’s what counts, right?
After completing the mock-up, I turned my attention to dyeing the velvet.
Why dye my own fabric? Being a ginger, I overheat very quickly when wearing jackets, to the point where I pass out. I cannot handle anything that’s not breathable. So, polyester is out. Which means I either needed cotton, rayon or silk velvet for this dolman. That stuff runs anywhere from $32/yard to $50, depending on where you buy it, and the $32/yard site didn’t have the shade of red I wanted. However, Dharma Trading has dyeable velvet (rayon pile, silk foundation) for $12/yard. Even with the marginal cost of dye, and that’s a difference of $15-30 a yard!
Plus, dyeing is fun.
I’ve used a number of different dyes in the past – iDye on cotton, Dylon on the velvet, tea for everything that’ll take it – with good results. However, since I wanted this to be AWESOME, I decided it would be a good time to step it up a notch, and move to a more professional dye. I opted for the Dharma Fiber Reactive Procion Dye, in Red Wine. This process is a lot more complex. Also, because I was dyeing four yards of velvet, the dye vat needed to be a LOT bigger than my stovetop dye pot. While you can use the washing machine, I don’t trust mine.
So I might have ended up using my entire bathtub.
My bathroom looked like a murder scene by the time I was done. I would have taken a photo, but my hands were gross, even with gloves on. I am happy to report that this dye cleans up PERFECTLY from every bathroom surface with Clorox bleach spray.
It was worth the sore arms, though. Look at how pretty this is!