1894 Petticoat

For my 1890s project I decided I want 2 new petticoats. I have an Edwardian petticoat which is too slim for 1895, but which is usable as a ‘bottom’ petticoat. The second petticoat would build the right shape, and the final petticoat I’m planning to make with the same pattern as the skirt and make in more fun fabric. That one is to really get to the wide shape of the period. This post is about the second, so the middle petticoat! This is how it turned out:

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After getting some white cotton I  started looking for patterns. I browsed trough the 1894 to 86 issues of the Gracieuse, and eventually found this petticoat:

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There was a tiny pattern on the pattern sheet. Way to small to read any text, but enough to get a feeling for the shapes. I figured that the front and back would be cut on the fold, and that the horizontal line through the back and side panels would be where the gathering happens. I ended up not using the dart in the side panel, as that piece is gathered on anyway.

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My first step was to translate it to roughly the right length and width. For the length I just measured how far I wanted it, for the width I used the placement of the front-side seam. In the picture you can see that this is just slightly further than halfway around the body. This way I could figure out the width I wanted the front panel, and increase the size of the others similarly.

My first step was to take some notes and measures:

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For construction, the first step was to cut the main skirt shapes, and sew them all together. The front panel has two darts, and has a yoke as waistband.

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The side and back are gathered to a waistband which is itself a bit larger than the waist circumference. The waistband then encases a string (starting at the seam between front and side panels) which ties in place center back.

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On the side and back panels, a piece of cotton tape is stitched on, encasing another cord (again starting at the seam between the front and side panel) which ties center back. Pulling this in keeps the width of the skirt towards the back, and the front smooth. This is quite typical of the skirts of this era. Though very wide, the folds are in the back.

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For the ruffles, I cut one strip 42cm high and one about 16cm high. All ruffles were hemmed with a rolled (machine) hem. This took a while. The small ruffle was about 15m long, the other one about 7m.

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I used my machine pleater foot to sew the small ruffle to the large one, and the large one to the base skirt. Before sewing, the top was simply ironed over about 1cm. In retrospect I cut too much ruffle fabric, as I didn’t really calculate the ratio beforehand. There’s plenty on the skirt though, and I can easily re-use the rest as linings later.

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And this is how it looks finished! I’ve put it over the old Edwardian petticoat to properly show what the shape would be at this point. It’s starting to show the typical A-line shape with fulness in the back. The final petticoat will serve to make the shape even more extreme.

A blue circle skirt

My last completed make for this year was a blue circle skirt. I don’t normally blog about all circle skirts I make, but I used so many historical techniques on this one I wanted to share.

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The fabric is a lovely blue wool. It’s not very heavy, nor very tightly woven, which means that it drapes beautifully. The picture below shows the color best, I brightened the other pictures a bit more to show the details better.

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I got 3m of fabric for this project, and knew I wanted to have it be between under-knee and kalf length somewhere, and as wide as possible. With a little piecing I managed to get one full circle and one 3/4 circle cut out. Lying flat, you can see how it’s much wider than a single full circle would be.

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It did take a little piecing to make it this wide and long enough at the same time. I pieced the hem at two points so I could cut my circles in full from 1,5m wide fabric (the circles were cut with a 164cm diameter). You can see it if you know, but I suspect it’ll hardly be noticeable when wearing. Piecing li

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The waistband was machined to one side, folded over and machined again in the stitchline so the stitching doesn’t show from the right side.

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I also put a pocket in one of the seams, the pattern taken from the Truly victorian 1870’s underskirt pattern.

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When I got around to doing closures, I didn’t really feel like putting in a zipper. So I pulled out another TV pattern (TVE23) and used the hooks-eyes + placket method described in there. I quite like the look of this finish.

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The last thing to do was the hemming. I really wanted a minimal of machine stitching showing, so I decided to bind the hem. About 10m of bias tape was sewn onto the right side by machine, turned over and ironed to the wrong side and then sewn on by hand. It took about 3 hours to do the hand-sewing, but the clean hem is so worth it.

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I’m very pleased with how this skirt came out, I love how it moves with all the volume, and the little historical details make me quite happy.

 

1896 – Suggestions for dressmakers

Along with looking at inspiration pictures (aka: too much pinterest), I’ve been doing some reading on the 1890’s. The website archive.org has a large collection of old dressmaker manuals. Most for the 1890’s are drafting guides, but I also found one book which goes into more aspects of dressmaking. It’s called ‘Suggestions for dressmakers’, from 1896, by Catherine Broughton, and it’s a gem.

It has a lot of tips for how to make stuff up, fitting, lining, etc. But it’s also very funny, although perhaps not intentionally. So in this post, some things I learned, and some funny quotes!

Firstly, this book is written for an American audience, and absolutely cannot get enough of praising Parisians. The author was particularly fond of Worth, though not so much of queen Victoria….

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And in case you were wondering how exactly something was done, she reassures us it’s more about general effect. As the Parisians know, of course:

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Although reading the following, I’d probably be a bit less inclined to go to Paris for my dress. About Parisian dressmakers:

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She also has some really good advice though, and describes some clever techniques in enough detail to be very helpful.

These are some comments on fitting I need to remember. The tip to also fit sitting down is one I want to try more. (I’m also definitely guilty of fitting inside out, despite knowing I’m not fully symmetrical…)

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Of course, in case you thought it was easy, here is a comment to put you back in your place.

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But she does have good tips! If you fit around a posture you normally don’t adopt, then as soon as you go back into your ‘regular’ posture it won’t fit as well.

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And a little note on skirts.

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On cutting on grain: (of course, including some snark)

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I found the section on linings particularly interesting.

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She also has some interesting tips on boning. In particular that the boning should really stretch the fabric, and how to achieve that.

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And for everyone who has ever struggled with hooks and eyes which come undone (including myself):

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And a little bit on skirt bands. I thought the idea of piping was quite interesting, it definitely makes sense if the bodice goes over anyway.

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She then has some chapters on color and style, and her main message is that a dressmaker can make a world of difference. Snarkily worded, of course, we cannot let it get too kind.

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I’d definitely recommend everyone to read this little book in full, it has a lot more good advice in it (and also some not so good). It can be found in full online here.

To conclude, some advice on trousers, just so you know.

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