Leather Appliqued peasant dress (2002)

done wornI was playing around with the idea of doing reverse applique in leather when
I made this — it’s more of a test piece than anything. The technique itself
was used in period, and is seen on a suit of men’s clothing in Patterns of
Fashion (Janet Arnold). It’s really not, to my knowledge, a peasant thang.
But I was doing up a series of experiments of various construction methods and
detail/decoration techniques, and trying to work out what level of detail I
could do using a sewing machine to apply the leather and standard scissors to
cut away the design was part of that. I’ve worked out over the years that it’s
more than a little silly to start an experiment with plans for a full noble
gown, so now I end up doing completely unreasonable things with peasant bodices,
which have the advantage of being fast and easy. This one is a lightly boned
bodice made of, erm, two layers of cotton duck that I dyed at some point, and
an interlining of muslin (just to give me something to make boning cases with).
There is boning that goes all the way from the front to the back over the
shoulders, which keeps the straps from slipping around. I like that. I fuss
with straps constantly when the droop — mine, other people, random strangers,
it doesn’t matter. I’m on some sort of subconscious jihad against droopy
straps.

The pattern was drawn out on tissue.  This actually makes it possible for me to do the stitching in a hunid, un-airconditioned rental.  The tissue prevents the machine foot from dragging on the leather.

The pattern was drawn out on tissue. This actually makes it possible for me to do the stitching in a hunid, un-airconditioned rental. The tissue prevents the machine foot from dragging on the leather.

The pattern is machined, and the tissue torn off.  (That's a really good OCD project.)

The pattern is machined, and the tissue torn off. (That’s a really good OCD project.)

Then you start cutting away everything between the lines of stitching.  Hence the name, Reverse Applique.  This is also a good OCD project.

Then you start cutting away everything between the lines of stitching. Hence the name, Reverse Applique. This is also a good OCD project.

The skirts are pretty well just skirts. The green one is pleated
onto a waist band, and the blue one is just a drawstring waist. (The weave on
that blue stuff is tight enough that both my serger and my sewing machine refused
to go through three layers of the stuff, which rather made pleating it a non-option.)
Neither of them is even hemmed — I just ripped the fabric to length (literally
ripped, btw — that’s the fastest, most efficient way of getting a length of
yardage straight on the grain for an even weave fabric, and a good stress relief
to boot). The chemise actually have pretty elaborately embroidered sleeves,
courtesy of an old bed sheet that I picked up at a garage sale years ago. I’ve
got it work tucked up in the shoulder straps of the bodice. Either it was really
hot out when the picture was taken, or I had put the sleeves up to keep them
out of my way while I was doing something and never put them back down, or maybe
I was trying to even out my driver’s tan. I have no idea. And I was apparently
having a fantastic breast day. ;)

The posed picture was taken by the peerless Brian
Morton
, an all around great guy and fantastic magician who doesn’t visit
bristol enough (was that subtle enough, brian?). He refused to take the picture
until I smiled for it.

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