Costumes Bretons

Yesterday, the village where I live was having it's annual Fest Noz, girls and some boys were dressed in their best Brittany dresses and danced traditional dances.

After the French Revolution, sumptuary laws regulating "Superfluity Of Dress" in France were revoked and Brittany women took that as a cue to embellish their frocks. All of a sudden, they could use gold thread, beads, lace to show off and by gosh they did!

Highly codified and regionalised, your social status dictated how high on your skirt the black silk velvet could go or if you could embroider the top of it. It dictated how many button you could put on a men's coat. The handwork is exceptional and some details of construction were very interesting. 

Do you see these handmade ruffles? Amazing. Look at the bodice, hand picked shaping. I had a grand old time, talking to the older women, how they got their dresses from their mother, an aunt, heirlooms, passed from one women to another. 
And I got to touch black silk velvet, the feeling of which is now engraved on my fingertips. 

Prom Dress Update

Prom dress, refashionned

Tasia of Sewaholic, whom you should read because she makes very pretty clothes, just showed her prom dress and it reminded me that I promised a picture of mine way back in May. My sister was nice enough to scan some pictures of her wearing it in the short cut version. My Mom bought the dress for me on a trip to HawaĂŻ. It was japanese influenced had a long slit on the side and had little surfers and palms trees in black and gold print. 
I can't beleive how elaborate Tasia's dress is. I couldn't have tackled that at 16. No wonder her sewing chops are so sharp! I did make a black satin jacket with red satin piping to go with it (Butterick 6571 view C) and that was difficult enough for me. 

Any of you living in 1979 will know this outfit was quite radical, punk even, the aesthetics of it, no ruffle, no frills, no petticoat, no pastel, no chiffon, was just reaching our far away St-Lawrence River shores. 
Just so you know, that year, being the rebellious silly youngsters we were, we boycotted the yearbook, the official photographs and we gave a piglet to the valedictorian. Carole, Lucie, Louise and I showed up unaccompanied as a small feminist stance. There are no records of that evening.
The satin jacket has long been lost but the dress is about to be passed away to my nieces if they want it. Isn't it neat that 30 years later, my prom dress will get a third life?

Leftover Fabric

"You must have some leftover fabric, why don't you sew me a (insert a garment here)".
As I am starting to hear this more and more, I thought I'd address this issue once and for all. I mostly sew for me and my very close family. In other words, if Junior here marries your daughter in 20 years, I might consider making you something eventually.
Also you should stop refering to my leftover fabric as scraps. I don't keep scraps. The pieces left after a project are big enough to line a pocket or a collar, make some bias, a small pouch for Pokemon cards, a muslin and so on. I might not have use for them now, but I will, one day. They are valuable and will not be wasted on you!
Bring your sewing machine, I'll show you how to use it, I'll show you how to follow a pattern, hem your pants, fix your rip but I won't do it for you. Go seek a professionnal if you need one.
There I have said it. The Selfish Seamstress is on to something and I should listen to her.

Quickie : Shirring

Up until last week, I didn't know I could shirr with my machine. I don't know I'll be using this technique a lot, but I am quite happy to have learned a new trick... which I quickly passed on to the lovely young lady who comes everyday to learn. 
I may have created a monster because all day, yesterday, she painstakinly, very slowly made rows and rows of shirring to make a dress like this one, which is really a 2 hour project if you are not a beginner.
There is no pattern to this dress, it's a square. Measure your bust, double the measure, in my case I took the entire 150cm width (where I realised the cheap fabric I bought had been printed on a slant) made a baby hem on top and used this excellent very simple shirring video. I made a side seam, a 4cm hem and I was ready to hit the beach in style. Just so you know, I took off 25cm in length after seeing this picture!

Just imagine this knee-lenght

She was shinning with glee when she finished, I found it extremely moving as I made a Ratatouille-like flashback to being 16 and felt her joy and pride. She has some of the qualities it takes to make a seamstress : extreme patience, some stubbornness, some pickiness and a steady hand. I wish her a gazillion little perfect stitches and hundreds of well-worn handmade garments.

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