I came to the realization the other day that the yoke on the top of my dress was not only slopping around constantly when I moved, it just felt...odd and out of balance.
The was no getting around it, by cutting the yoke on my dress form without proper arm padding, the yoke sloped terribly, causing the dress to feel weird when it hung on me.
The only solution was to wack it off straight and start again.
Thankfully, the stitching I had across the top was temporary anyway and I knew I would have to resew it with the welt in place, I still worried about the fit after I did my irreversible slashing.
But I knew it should be straight across to be traditional, so I trusted in Tradition and cut away....
Even the sleeves had a strange sort of swoop upwards from using a curved bow as my dress form arms, these I slashed off too.
I was then left with a nice straight line, as it should have been in the first place.
The picture doesn't show it, but I further trimmed until the cut neckline was flush also, I wanted to start completely fresh.
If I had cut too much I could always add a 1' or 2" gusset with welts on either side evenly across the shoulder to the sleeve, I saw this on one dress at the museum, but my dress was also too long so trimming was in order.
I then added my welts between the layers..and whip stitched all together, then turned, flattened the seam and trimmed the welt to be flush.
The leather across the top is very thick and spongy, very hard to sew easily. This also creates a stiff yoke that adds structure to the dress line itself, but is a total pain to sew and forces you to sew a thicker seam to penetrate to the stable leather.
This will be important once beads and dentalium shell is added, the shoulders must support a great deal of weight without shifting or pulling, but makes the shoulder seam heavy and bulky. Trimming the welt close helps to ease this bulk as well as using an equally thick and spongy welt.
I always match my welt thickness to the leather on the seams, this creates a uniformity of tension and weight that is noticeable. You must always be certain to have your seams very straight, or pucker and sway will translate into a ghastly bulge or swoop when done.
Here is the result. The yoke is noticeably shorter. This is caused by the cutting off one inch overall on each side of the yoke, (front and back), but the added seam welt and tight whip stitching have gathered up the garment at least another half inch and made the yoke more rigid and therefore less floppy and stretchable.
New wrinkles have appeared at the armpits, which will ease themselves out as the dress rests on the form and me, as all leather garments do with time.
It now fits like a dress. It is truly more comfortable, and is at least one inch shorter at the hem, allowing for the future fringe that will reside there.
The waistline also moved up and inch, but it looks more traditional that way, the long waist was a bit too long in retrospect.
It was the scariest part of making this dress so far, it looked great, but it didn't feel right, most of the time I felt like I was wearing a heavy sheet or potato sack, every time I bent over I had to re adjust the yoke as it would slip from one side to another.
Now it stays put. I had to fold the neck in front under and inside about and inch and will tack it into place with a few stitches, most people could tolerate the flap but I have a surgery scar on my neck right where it touched and it bothered me. I can't wear turtle necks either because of it.
Here is the dress now as it stands, I am so grateful to my husband for being patient with me as we were taking pictures, I'm sure I drove him crazy with all my jumping up and interrupting his reading to snap a few more pics....
The fringe welts at the side add a real bulky look to the garment yet, but once they are cut into very thin fringe and are tortured, (my word for the distressed, kinky look on most Old World dresses fringe), I'm sure it will have a slimmer line, or off it will come!
I will be sharing my distressed fringe technique when I get to this part soon. The sleeves will also be fringed heavily to get rid of the bell look.
The side silhouette is looking great, I want to be able to wear this dress without a belt or with one, and the hang looks very nice.
It still has a bulge in the front caused by pinning the dress front up to the shoulders when I colapsed the dress form for travel, I won't be doing that any more, she now rides laying down on our bed as we go down the road, so the bump should ease out with time.
I am leaving the train long in the back, and will also be adding side "feet" as an extension to the gussets I sewed in in the previous post, this will be an exciting addition and will pull the sides of the dress down for a slimmer look.
The dresses I studied had these "feet" covered with hundreds of brass cones, I will be using copper cones as is proper for pre contact.
Also, as a side note, I had to switch out dress forms, my size C is now too big for me, I am officially a size B now, and had to move to my smaller form. I have lost 45 or more pounds since I started this project.
I was gluten intolerant and since giving up all wheat products and MSG, the weight has just fallen off of me. Women of Native Descent take note of this! Most diabetes and other illnesses including arthritis would improve if we just laid off the wheat.
If your heritage does not include several generations of wheat consumption, you too could be gluten intolerant!
My Husband thinks I look lovelier the closer I comes to honoring ancient traditions and living out my lifetime dream of recreating a precontact Two Hide Elk Dress! He may have something there, I have never been happier, although my fingers are so sore I can barely type!