The Wedding of Miss Croghan, Part 2: It Takes a Village

Brandon and I have been talking this weekend about how glad we are that we moved to Louisville (nearly two years ago–I can hardly believe that!). Since we got down here, we’ve found a wonderful circle of friends, we both have jobs we enjoy, and we’ve discovered a hobby that takes up much of our free time. The friends and the hobby really go together a lot of the time, as was shown last Saturday, when the ladies of Locust Grove’s costumed interpreter corps (and a few others besides) rallied at my house for a tea party/day of stitching on Ann Croghan’s wedding dress. I couldn’t have done this without them. The dress is still a work in progress, but I can’t believe how much we’ve gotten done.

I spent last Friday night and Saturday morning preparing snacks and making sure everything was ready to be sewn, then threw my doors open to all and sundry. This including cutting each piece of the dress out of both white Swiss and light blue lawn. In the finished dress, the Swiss will be layered over the lawn so that just the barest blush of blue shows through.

Amy creating the incredible ruched, lacy panel for the bodice front:IMG_0254IMG_0257IMG_0262

Amy spent most of the day working on this, and it’s so stunning. I should have kept track of how much time she spent carefully arranging those gathers so that they fell perfectly (the white piece of the front had to gather down onto a blue piece that was cut to the actual pattern specs).

Brandon’s mom, Judy, even came down from Michigan to help–and brought the most delicious lemon bars I’ve ever tasted. Seriously. Be jealous. She also gets brownie points (or are they lemon bar points?) for her nonstop help in the kitchen Saturday morning, and her insistence on doing the dishes throughout the day. My house would have been such a disaster without her. Here are she and Heather working on basting each white bodice piece to the corresponding blue bodice piece, and assembling as much of the bodice as could be assembled before the front panel was finished. (Wish I’d gotten a less glare-y picture of them, but hey, the Sun, what can you do?)

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Here’s Heather gathering lace for the front (her daughter Jos helped too, and got to practice her hand sewing, but I somehow missed getting of a picture of her with a needle in her hand):

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Photo Credit on this one to Amy Liebert! Jos and I also got to chat about books, which was awesome. One of the things I miss most about working at a bookstore is getting to talk about books with awesome kids like her!

Despite her avowed lack of ability to sew, Marrie created my test poof for the skirt, so that we could figure out how wide they needed to be and how much gathering was required:

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Once we had measurements for the poofs, Judy cut them out, and she and Heather (with help from Jos) assembled them–there will be three big rows of poof on the skirt, and each one had to be sewn together from several shorter strips, creased along the long edges, and gathered.IMG_0258 (Better)Amy being the pressing queen:

Don't forget, boys and girls, always press your seams as you go!
Don’t forget, boys and girls, always press your seams as you go!

On Saturday morning, we had nothing but a bunch of pieces of fabric and at the end of the day:

1822 bodice

I know it doesn’t look very blue there, but here it is next to a white piece of the skirt:

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Lest you think I spent the whole day telling minions what to do while eating bonbons, here’s my project for the day (and beyond)–miles and miles of hand-sewn tucks on the skirt. Ok, so it’s not really miles, but it is over 100 feet total. I still have the last group of four to do before I’m done and get to start stitching the poofs into those empty spaces between them!

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Basically, what I’m saying is that I have some awesome people in my life. I had so much fun on Saturday, and I’m inexpressibly grateful to everybody who came and helped! I can’t even describe the tortured mental state that I would have been in without them. I can’t wait to see the finished product!

Now, back to work,

Hannah

Read about the beginning of this project, and the research that goes into creating a period costume in The Wedding of Miss Croghan, Part 1.

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