Bicycle skirt

Beginning of this year, a friend of mine found a sweater in a modern shop which looked remarkably like a 1890’s sports sweater. It’s not quite perfect, but it definitely mimics the look. I debated about it, but in the end I couldn’t resist and followed her example and got one as well.

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An original sweater from the MET ca 1895

 

I’ve had the TV299 pattern for a ca. 1900 split skirt (bicycling/riding) for years now and never had a good reason to make it, but I now needed something to wear with the sports sweater, so it was perfect! Although dated a bit later, I found some earlier examples of similar split skirts, so I called it ‘close enough’.

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Cycling suit (MET, 1896–98) – the TV pattern image – Lady cyclist tabacco card (NY public library)

 

I knew I really wanted wool for this project, and preferably a plaid. In the end, I found this beautiful brown fabric, which has hints of green, blue and red running through. It was just a little thinner and drapier than I was hoping for, so I chose to interline it with unbleached cotton to give it a bit more structure and volume.

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The fabric, this picture probably shows the colors best

 

Shosing the interfacing when I was hemming. The bottom has a brown cotton hem facing. Because I made it bycicle length, and I didn’t want the white cotton to show when moving.

 

I tend to use patterns as inspiration and basic shapes, changing things as I go and not follow instructions. But for this skirt, I actually stuck with the pattern very closely. Technically, this is a pants pattern. It looks like a skirt, but it’s pants with really wide legs and strategic pleats. So it’s a little more complicated to me than skirts or bodices, as the only ‘pants’ I’d ever made were split drawers. Not quite the same. (What’s complicated depends on experience, pants patterns scare me much more than corsets).

 

The pattern went together quite well (when I was paying attention), the only thing I had to read a couple of times were how to fold the back pleats. It worked out as I was doing it though. My only nit-picky comment would be that because you sew the buttonholes in the front leg through 2 layers of fabric (basically in the pleated part), that bit becomes quite difficult to hem at the end. If you want your final button hole close to the bottom, I’d actually advice not stitching that when the pattern tells you (before construction), but leave that one to last (after you’ve hemmed everything). The only minor thing I changed was to take in the side/back seam a bit and widen the darts in the side, as I picked a size based on hip measurement (as advised), meaning I had to make the waist smaller by 3 inches. That worked quite well though! I was a bit scared because of all the pleating, but the relevant seams are not pleated, so I could check for fit quite well.

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Back pleats

 

I’m really happy with how this turned out, and love the fabric with this style. All the buttonholes (20…) were a bit of a chore, but they do add that little extra interest.

Button holes & buttons on the opening.

 

Making this in the shorter bicycle length means it actually reads quite modern! I didn’t necessarily plan this beforehand, but by now I’ve already worn it in daily life a couple of times!

When visiting the museum!

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I also wore the split skirt with the sweater to a photoshoot day. I made a beret to go with it the day before as it does really call for some type of headwear. I’m very happy with how this look turned out! It’s fun, but also very comfortable and easy to move around in.

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Photograph by Amabile

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Photo by PressCoat Photography

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Photo by PressCoat Photography

Edwardian corset – revisited

My Edwardian corset was one of the first I made, and the very first from a commercial pattern. Generally, I am extremely happy with the fit of Truly Victorian patterns, but for this corset it never quite worked out. Added to that, I didn’t really know how to fit it properly. Because I have a relatively large hip-spring, it turned out too small through the hips. After making a number of other corsets, I realized this actually meant there was barely any waist compression, and the corset smoothed out my figure rather than make it more hourglass. It also got a tendency to ride up when I sat down, making sitting not very comfortable.

The before: (2015)

 

I debated on what to do, because I did like the materials and the lace I used. Initially I thought I had enough silk leftover to make a new one, but that wasn’t the case. So eventually, I decided I’d try just replacing the two side-panels. These are the ones where all the hip-action happens, so where the main changes needed to be. My goal here was to have enough space at the top of the hips, and maybe even a bit too much at the back to allow for padding to achieve the typical S shape. I initially made the corset to go over padding in the back, and although I needed more hip room at the side, I can still use a little help in the back.

S-Bend Corset

The typical S-bend silhouette

 

To figure out how much I needed to add, I removed the binding from the bottom and then slashed the panels to the waist. I then pinned fabric underneath until it felt like I had plenty of room.

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Slightly messy picture, but this gives an idea. Black fabric is pinned underneath the slashed panels.

 

I then re-cut the silk panels, removed the binding from the top, removed the lace from the top, and re-sewed the seams. Then I re-attached the binding and lace up top, and at the bottom, where it needed to be lengthened a bit.

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The panels were made quite a lot bigger from the waist down

 

 

Seeing how much of a difference this change made to the shape of the corset on me was really eye-opening. I did not change the waist circumference of the corset, it is exactly the same. But because I now have enough space in the hips, I can actually lace down better. Moreover, visually the waist looks even smaller by comparison. For corsets, is all about shape, much more than size.

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The old vs the new. Again, nothing was taken away from the waist or anywhere else. All the difference is in the enlargement you see in the pattern picture above, in the hip portion of two panels (neither of which you can actually see from the front).

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I do still use padding, but it’s all to fill out the back and bottom of the hips. The hip-spring itself (so where it curves out from the waist) is not padded at all. The padding maily helps to fill out the back towards a more S like shape.

Although not my neatest work ever, I’m very glad I was able to give new life to this corset by making these changes. I never liked the wrinklyness of this corset, and I still don’t really. But this was actually a really good way to make use of what I already had, and as a foundation garment it serves it’s purpose again. Because of the new shape, I’m now actually looking forward to wearing it again! (Now I just need to adapt the high-waisted skirt that was made to go on top…)