The Stripey bustle

I made a thing. It’s fabulously seasonal, wasn’t at all on my to-do list, and I’m really happy I made it.

The thing is that I have a ton of projects on my to-do list, both smaller things to finish and bigger ones I’ve already got the fabric for. There are enough plans on there to last me a couple of years I suspect.

But after finishing my green 1830’s dress, I mainly wanted an ‘easy’ project, something that wouldn’t require too much thinking, and which would be fun. And finishing old projects is just never as exciting as starting new ones, and the new projects on my to-do list all required more thinking than I wanted.

So instead, I turned to my pattern stash and pinterest. I’ve had this Truly Victorian pattern for a number of years, but I didn’t have plans in which it would fit yet. It was perfect for what I was looking for though, exciting, yet simple enough because I could just follow the pattern directly.

The other thing I’d been thinking about for a couple of years was a black and white striped dress. There’s just something about this type of fabric that the goth in me still really appreciates. I especially love the ones which combine the stripes with solid black, like this one:

Revue de la Mode 1873

So I ordered a pattern for a bodice, which was a little more interesting than the base pattern I already owned. Again: for the purpose of not having to change much, and just being able to make it up as it was intended. I settled on the Truly Victorian Senora bodice:

And I ordered some fabric swatches. I found black/white striped cotton. I wanted to pair it with solid black, to break it up a bit, but the solid black cotton didn’t quite give me the right feeling. While the striped cotton is printed, the black is probably dyed and it makes the color a bit less intense. It also was more loosely woven than I’d hoped. So instead, I went with a black poly taffeta from the same shop. I wasn’t quite ready to use my (much more expensive) black silk taffeta on this, and the poly stuff looks enough like the real deal from a distance. I also wouldn’t be using it for all of the bodice, which means that hopefully it will still be breathable enough.

And then I started to doodle around in photoshop! I wanted to try out which bits to make of which fabric, how to combine the stripes and the black. In the end, I settled on this design:

I cut the pattern and made a mock-up in the first weeks of October, after finishing the 1830’s dress. My fabric arrived half way through the month, after which I immediately started sewing.

I was aiming for about a month to make this, but it went so fast! Starting right after a holiday meant I had quite a bit of sewing energy, and having planned everything beforehand + working from patterns meant I could go full steam ahead, so that I was actually finished with the skirt within a week, and had the bodice ready in another. For me, this really is super fast. It did also really help that I went the ‘quick’ way on almost everything. Not bothering about too much stripe matching, hemming by machine, etc. Spending time on those things definitely give a costume an extra touch, but for this one, the goal was to make something fun, rather than something perfect.

As a final touch, I decided to get some bright orange ribbon and give the dress a seasonal vibe. I made a ton of bows, and pinned them all on the dress. They are all removable, which means I can still wear the dress out in a slightly more subtle version as well. They are quite fun though! For the pictures, I re-styled my 1870’s hat with some other trim (I saved the old one)

I think that after this, I’m ready to tackle some of my unfinished projects. This dress was really about instant gratification, and it did it’s job perfectly.

Back to the 1830s

At the beginning of the year, when I was roughly planning out projects, I decided to work on 1830’s things after the big 1895 project was done. The main reason was a romantic (so, 1830s) weekend in the UK I was hoping to go to. Of course, that weekend got cancelled, but I decided to just go ahead with my plans. My main inspiration was this dress from the Concord museum:

#concordmuseum hashtag on Instagram • Photos and Videos
Satin Dress, 1834-6. Concord Museum. Worn by Harriet Tufts Russell of Arlington to the inaugural ball of Martin van Buren in 1837

I really love the bodice treatment in particular. You see a lot of pleats in 1830’s bodices, but I’d never seen this particular style which creates a diamond shape in the middle. I’ve since looked at fashion plates for something similar, but it seems to have been a fairly unique design.

While I was working on the base of the bodice, I also found a photo of the back. I’d only seen exhibition pictures up to that point, all taken from the front as the back was to a wall. But the museum actually posted the back view on their Instagram, which was super useful! It has this fun little ‘cape’ going around the back, which I never would have seen otherwise.

Concord Museum on Instagram: “This beautiful white satin gown was once worn to a President's Ball. Tag someone you think would look great in it. Come enjoy more…”
Satin Dress, 1834-6. Concord Museum. Worn by Harriet Tufts Russell of Arlington to the inaugural ball of Martin van Buren in 1837

I started this project in June, and first up was patterning. I wanted to achieve a couple of things with this. First, was to use padding and really strive for the very ‘wide’ off the shoulder silhouette. The second was to pattern everything before I started cutting, including all the pleats. That was mostly because my fabric was only 80cm wide, and even with 8m of it, it was going to be a bit tight.

The pattern gave me some trouble this time, and it took a while to get everything fitting like I wanted to. A big shout-out to the Foundations Revealed community here for helping me out. But, eventually, I got there, and had all the pattern pieces in place!

I opted to use my silk only where visible. So there’s no silk underneath the pleats on the front, nor at the top back which is hidden by the cape. The sleeves had to be pieced, as my fabric wasn’t wide enough otherwise. That’s exactly what they also did in the period due to similarly small widths, so I am actually quite pleased with that.

The blue line is where the join in the sleeve is. The sleeve is cut on the bias, so this blue line runs along the fabric edge. The little red lines show the width of my fabric.

I started sewing with the skirt, which is fairly simple, just rectangles. The front is pleated with knife pleats, the back is cartridge pleated. The whole skirt is lined, as the silk is rather flimsy on it’s own.

Skirt done, it was time to start on the bodice! I only cut those parts that would be visible out of the silk, so the front base is entirely out of cotton, and so is the top of the back. The side panel of the silk actually extends to the front to end where the pleats begin, and the center front ‘diamond’ is a square of silk whose edges are hidden by the pleated panels.

The pleats are stitched down strategically in places by hand, just taking small bits of the silk under a pleat to make sure the attachment wouldn’t be visible.

After the pleats were stitched down, I could add the padding. I’d already made the shapes out of thick flannel layers to fit my bodice pattern over. They were pinned in, and covered by a layer of cotton which I stitched around by hand.

This is the final inside, showing the padding. There is a bit over the bust, but the bulk is above and to the outside to give the smooth round and wide shape

Then came the sleeves. There’s a join in the silk, and the sleeves are again fully lined to give a bit more structure. There was a lot of gathering involved! I tried to get as much volume as possible towards the back, but in the end it’s pretty evenly gathered as tightly as possible all the way around to make it fit. I finished the slits in the sleeves first, by simply laying the lining to the silk right sides together and turning inside out. This gives a neat finish to the edge.

The cape was piped with double piping, which was quite fiddly as it needed to go around all the points. I decided not to line the cape, as I was afraid the lighter cotton would show too much, and I didn’t have enough silk left to fully line them with that. So the piping around the edge is stitched down as small as possible to not show too much on the right side. The cape was stitched onto the neckline first, which was then finished by a row of single piping, with a slightly larger cord. It’s actually important to finish the necklines of these gowns with something non-stretchy, as you don’t want an off-shoulder gown to stretch and slip off.

Final touches were the waistband, boning, and the hooks and bars. The back was finished the same way as my friend Nikki shows in her wonderful video here.

As a quick wrap-up, I made myself some sleeve plumbers from the AD pattern here. These are quite important for keeping the dress in shape, though I think I want to experiment a bit more on how to attach them best to the dress.

And then she was done! This project took some time, mostly as I took long stretches off to wrap my head around what to do next. With the bodice taking a number of drafts, and the layers of silk and cotton and pleating in the bodice all needing some figuring out, it took more brainpower than I had most evenings after work. I’m really happy with how it turned out though, and can’t wait to wear it out when it’s possible to have events again.

Meanwhile, I took it for a brief spin during our holidays near the forest, to get some pictures! I took my antique pelerine and Regency bonnet as accessories, because I’m still working on an 1830’s bonnet. It’s not quite big enough, but has an okay shape.

The pelerine is very pleasant for covering your shoulders, but also effectively hides the most interesting part of the dress: the bodice pleats. So I also took some pictures without.

A folded jacket from Zeeland

This post is about my latest project, which is a folded jacket in the style of Walcheren, in Zeeland. The most fun part of this traditional jacket is that it’s cut in 1 piece, and sewn into shape using clever folds and darts. The only seam is the underarm one, connecting the front to back under the sleeves. It’s such an interesting style, so it deserves some background info as well!

20200902_082111

My finished jacket. The belt is ‘vintage’ style, but works quite well. The front is a little simple, as these jackets were normally worn with an apron on top, so the belt sets off the waistline nicely.

 

This is an original one, similar to mine:

Jacket from Walcheren, ca. 1900. Yes, this is cut out of one piece of fabric! (lining and outer fabric each, of course). Nederlands Openluchtmuseum

 

Zeeland is a province in the south-west of the Netherlands, with a number of large islands, and strong connections with traditional dress. Although current traditional dress in Zeeland knows many variations, they have all evolved from similar clothing between the 18th century and now.

Afbeeldingsresultaat voor ZEELand

Red is Zeeland

 

I own two books specifically about this costume. While the first book describes costume in general, including the societal and social connotations, this second book is about making it, focusing on pattern drafting. It’s actually one of the first books on traditional costume aimed at recreation, which I think is great as so much knowledge like this is disappearing. Today we still often wear older originals when showing traditional Dutch dress, but at some point you want to stop wearing antique clothing. Yet it often takes a lot of skill to properly recreate garments, so a book full of information on this is great.

Zeeuwse-streekdrachten_3D_small_image

This is the book!

 

The book includes information on how to draft you own pattern blocks, and how to use those to draft patterns for the traditional garments. It includes patterns for late 18th century stuff up to today, covering the whole range of different costumes in Zeeland today.

The most interesting chapter to me was the one on folded jackets. During the 19th and 20th century, two types of jackets were worn in Zeeland. The type that was cut in 1 piece and folded into shape, and a version which has cut pattern pieces. From the outside, they can actually look very similar, but construction is quite different.

Jakken

These two jackets are both from Zuid-Beveland, the middle island in Zeeland. (I suspect both are from ca. 1950). The left is cut, and is from the east part. The right jacket is from Middelburg in Walcheren (the west part),  and is folded. The shape is quite similar, but they’re patterned and sewn up very differently.

 

In the book they differentiates between the two by calling the folded jackets ‘jak’ (jacket), and the cut ones ‘mantel’, or ‘mankel’ (current day translation would be cape, but in those days it was used for jackets). I don’t know if historically, this terminology was as strict, or if the terms were used interchangeably. Today, most museums just call the ‘mankel’ a jacket too, probably also because that word isn’t in use anymore.

The folded jackets were worn in multiple areas of Zeeland during the 19th century, but over time they were replaced by ‘modern’ dress in some areas, by cut jackets in others, and today they only survive in Walcheren (the western half of the middle island on the map above). As in all places, the costume is dying out, and hasn’t changed much since the 1950’s.

Walcheren (West-Kappelle) 1947

The full costume from Walcheren ca. 1950. The jacket is black, and over the years the neckline has dropped very low, giving room to show off the beuk (type of partlet) underneath.

 

The book describes extant jackets from ca. 1800 to today, and it’s interesting to see how many things have stayed the same during this period. The length of the peplum, height of the neckline, length of the sleeves and fabric choice all changed with fashion. Basic construction stayed much the same though! I don’t know how/when this folding originated, but I think it’s rather fascinating that such an old technique survived. It’s great for saving fabric, as you don’t cut away much, so if you change size you just unpick all the darts and fit it to the body again!

urn-gvn-NOMA01-HM1298-large

A folded jacket from Walcheren, I suspect from ca. 1800 (the book has a pattern from a similar jacket from this period. Especially the farmer society in Zeeland never really adopted the empire style, and kept wearing jackets and full skirts in the older style).

 

The jacket above is one of the earlier examples of a folded jacket (early 19th century). Compared to the black one above (I suspect a mid-20th century version), it has longer sleeves, a longer peplum, brightly colored fabric, a higher neckline and flaps to close center front. The folding pattern is pretty much the same though!

There are a couple of things you can directly trace back to 18th century fashion. The robings on this 18th century style have basically become ‘princess-seam’ like folds in the later styles that have a closed center front. The cuffs of the sleeves were cut separate originally because of the narrower fabric width, and some later styles kept this as a stylistic choice. And the little piece which finishes of the center back neckline still survives even after construction changed a bit and it’s functional use disappeared. On this little piece, seamstresses would sometimes leave a stitching pattern which was basically their signature, so you could see who made which jacket!

Girl’s jacket from ca. 1950. The little piece at the bottom of the back neckline shows the seamstresses ‘signature’ stitching. (Another fun note, around this time the jackets had a small ‘kerchief’ stitched into the jacket, the little white bit you see, another souvenir from the 18th century).

 

Of course, as the book offered instructions on how to make such a jacket, I wanted to make one! It gives instructions for both the earlier style with longer peplum and front-flap closure, and the shorter later style. I went for the second one, but made sure the neckline would be high enough to wear it without something underneath (the 1950’s version is the latest, and basically closes under the bust, so that was a no-go). The style of mine is now very similar to the style you see in the mid-19th century. I actually made up the pattern over 2 years ago when the book came out, but on a recent trip to Zeeland finally got inspired again to actually make the thing. And I picked up fabric there, which felt appropriate!

My jacket is made out of ‘Zeeuws Bont’, which is probably the only fabric which is typically found only in Zeeland. Jackets were made in printed cotton, silk, wool, and later velvet. Never in this Zeeuws bont though, which is cotton with a woven pattern. This fabric was used for aprons specifically (they also call it ‘schortebond’ for that reason). But because it’s so recognizable as being from Zeeland, and my jacket itself will probably not be recognizable to anyone but the real specialists from the cut alone, I figured it’d be a nice choice. I lined my jacket with thin black cotton from my stash.

Schortenbont Bloem

This is the fabric I got. I bought it in Middelburg at La Vaca, who don’t have an online shop. But this shop sells it as well.

 

This pattern shows the lining fabric cut out on the fold (on the left side). The chalk lines indicate the placement of all the folds!

20200826_191155b

 

Making this was actually quite quick (after I made 2 mock-ups…). The lining & outer fabric are treated as one, and the folds are folded and stitched in, and the side/underarm seam is sewn. By this point, it has it’s shape!

20200826_214541

 

After that it’s mostly finishing edges. I hemmed the sleeves by just folding them over and whipping them down, but the neckline and bottom edge I bound with bias tape. The fabric frays quite a bit, and this gives a clean finish. Originals often had the edges folded in on each-other as well.

20200830_183012

 

The final touch was the maker’s mark! I did this with a little piece of wool. I like the little touch of black contrast, and the wool doesn’t fray, which means the edges don’t need to be folded under (that part’s just laziness…)

20200901_180923

 

And that was it! I’m quite pleased with how wearable this came out, as it was also mostly an experiment with this style. Pairing it with a belt really helps to make it fit with ‘modern’ clothes, and gives it an almost 1950’s style. That makes sense, as the shape is mostly Victorian (and the 1950’s were absolutely a revival of Victorian shapes), and didn’t change much over the centuries. A good piece for historybounding!

20200902_08212520200902_082253

1890s sports blouse

It’s been almost a month since my last post! August flew by, I was busy first with work and then with taking some time off. I did, however, finish a small(ish) project!

Shari from La Rose Passementarie has been hosting some sew-alongs, to get people motivated to start projects which might not have an event. This month, the theme was ‘1890s shirtwaists’. I didn’t have this on my direct project list, but I did have a pattern. And I sort of want to make a vest with the leftover fabric from my bicycle skirt, which means I also need a blouse to wear it with. That was enough motivation to get me started.

I used the Black Snail sport blouse pattern. I chose a simple off-white cotton for the blouse + collar. This will be a fairly functional blouse, and this way it’ll fit with almost anything.

Edwardian Blouse worn about 1900 to do sports PDF Sewing Pattern ...

 

 

It is a fairly straightforward blouse, with the tricky bits being the collar and sleeve split+cuffs. I definitely needed to read the pattern a couple of times, and it helped to see the collar construction in this blog. It’s technically a different Black snail blouse, but the collar pattern is the same. If you’ve made 2 piece collars before it might be easier, but those bits would make me hesitant to recommend the pattern to real beginners.

The only thing I changed was to hand-fell the seams, instead of doing that by machine.

20200820_103648

 

I really like how this came out. For a next version, I might move the sleeves a little bit, as 1890s sleeves are fairly high up on the shoulder. But I am quite happy with the shape, it’s actually quite a flattering shape even if it’s not tucked into a skirt.

20200820_103529

 

Shortly after I finished the blouse, we actually had our first event since January, a Victorian (distanced) picnic. I took that opportunity to wear the blouse with my 1890’s petticoat/skirt, and that combination worked quite well! These pictures are by Martijn van Huffelen:

DSC_8132bDSC_8273bDSC_8275b

 

 

CoCoVid – All about Chintz!

Many of you have probably heard of CoCoVid, the initiative by the costube community to bring a little of costume college to YouTube. I loved the idea as soon as I heard it (I’ve never been to costume college, but definitely want to one day). So I got thinking about what I could contribute, and ended up with chintz. It’s something I’ve read quite a bit about, but I know there are fewer English sources, and that people are often looking for more information.

Of course, I don’t have a YouTube channel (something about spare time, and wanting to spend what I have sewing, mostly), so I had to find someone who would be willing to collaborate. And then I saw that Rebecca from Timesmith Dressmaking was starting a chintz sack-back gown project. I’d met her last year in Edinburgh (she was the initiator of the Isabella project), so this seemed like a perfect opportunity. I reached out to her with the idea, and she agreed to collaborate on this!

Promo

 

We spent a bit of time preparing topics, a lot of time geeking over our shared love for 18th century textiles, and eventually recorded our conversation. I also went over the images I took of chintz in various exhibitions over the years, so that the talking would be supported by some pretty imagery, and Rebecca edited everything together.

I really enjoyed making this contribution to the CoCoVid program (full information on the schedule is here), and I hope you all enjoy the video! It can be watched on the Timesmith Dressmaking Youtube channel here.

Or via this link directly: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BVisX929J6I

 

And, if you want to read a little more, these are the blog posts I did on chintz in the past:

Chintz – Terminology

Chintz in the Fries museum – color & pattern

Chintz in the Fries museum – how chintz was worn

Chintz in the Rijksmuseum

 

Book recommendations:

Dutch books:

Sits, Oost-west Relaties in Textiel (Out of print, but can be found second hand. Great for the information, not that many color pictures)

Sits, Katoen in Bloei – Gieneke Arnolli (Exhibition catalogue book from the Fries museum. Great for pictures)

Pronck & Prael, Sits in Nederland – Winnifred de Vos (General book on the role of chintz in the Netherlands, loads of info & pictures)

 

English books:

The Cloth that Changed the World – Sarah Fee (Book on the role of chintz globally, less Euro-focused)

 

Collection searches: (search for ‘sits’, the Dutch version of chintz)

ModeMuze: https://www.modemuze.nl/collecties 

Rijksmuseum: https://www.rijksmuseum.nl/en/search

Fries museum: https://collectie.friesmuseum.nl/

2 cotton Regency dresses

After making new stays, I figured I’d take the opportunity to also make some additions to my Regency wardrobe. I wanted to add one white cotton dress, as they are quite versatile. Wearing them with a spencer makes them suitable for day wear, but they can also work for evening. Additionally, I wanted a printed cotton day dress, something for more practical wear.

Both dresses were made with the same pattern, which I adapted from my previous Regency dresses. I particularly wanted to try out bib-style dresses, so dresses where the center front panel is only attached to the skirt, and ties in place. The main advantage of this style is that it closes in the front, so is easy to get in and out of.

These pictures by the Hungarican Chick show the system really well:

 

For the white cotton dress, this was my main inspiration:

c.1808-1809 Gilbert Stuart - Mary Harrison Eliot

ab. 1808-1809 Gilbert Stuart – Mary Harrison Eliot
(Harvard Art Museums)

I really love the decoration on the bodice and sleeve of this dress. A lot of white cotton regency dresses have intricate white-work embroidery as decoration, but I wanted this to be a simple project so I chose to do it with lace instead. I don’t know for sure if the portrait is embroidered or has lace, but the straight borders do suggest lace to me. The portrait also seems to show a bib-dress, if you look closely there is the suggestion of the front panel being laid on top of the shoulder strap. For the skirt I went fairly simple, but I did add some tucks near the bottom for extra decoration.

The lace I bought from cottonlace, and is very pretty! The right picture are the tucks in progress

 

For my day-dress, I looked at existent examples and settled on this one:

1808-12 White cotton day dress printed with red and blue floral rondels overall. The dress with scoop neck and high waist. A panel from the waistband flaps up over the bust, ties at the waist are pulled to the tightly pleated back. The short sleeves with sewn in fitted undersleeve with ruffled wrist. Silverman/Rodgers Collection, KSUM 1983.1.28

KSU MuseumFollow
Cotton day dress, ca. 1808-1812

 

It is made of printed cotton, and has a tuck at the hem and sleeve ruffles. The bodice is decorated with a simple pleated strip to add a little interest. I liked how this dress is very simple, but has a couple of small decorative touches. Plus, this also looks to be a bib-front dress. I think this original dress has one-piece sleeves, but I decided to go for a separately finished short puff sleeve and longer sleeve, whipped together. This way, I have the option to remove the lower sleeve easily for hot days.

The Merry Dressmaker: Kent State Museum of Fashion: A Pictorial Tease II

Picture courtesy of the Merry Dressmaker

 

 

And the finished dresses!

The white dress, with evening gloves and tiara.

IMG_0481IMG_0489

 

The lace on the bodice and sleeves adds a subtle bit of interest.

IMG_0517IMG_0527

 

And the white-blue gown, worn with the long sleeves, my chemisette and bonnet (in some pictures, as I also wanted to show the pleated strip on the bodice.

IMG_0329IMG_0339

 

IMG_0378IMG_0370

Regency stays

Regency was the first period I tried when starting historical costuming, mainly because there were a lot of events and it is relatively simple. It’s not really my favorite period, but I do enjoy spending time with friends at Regency events.

I have a number of Regency dresses which I like, but I’ve been wanting to replace my undergarments for a little while now. I have short stays, but I’ve become very used to wearing full corsets under costumes and in retrospect the short stays also don’t give me the best shape.

I’ve been putting off making long stays because I don’t really need them, but with all the free weekends I figured now was a good time. I got the regency stays pattern from Redthreaded, having heard good things about them.

I made a mock-up, and mainly added room in the hips, which was expected as the pattern is a bit straighter than me. I also raised the bust gussets by about 1cm.

20200416_193745

Cutting time!

 

I followed slightly different steps for the construction, as the pattern calls for constructing it as a single layer (even if using more) with internal boning channels and I wanted a clean finish inside as you see in originals. I couldn’t really figure out how originals were constructed, so I used the method of constructing the pieces front to back, ‘welding’ the seams inbetween the layers. Basically, when attaching panel 1 to 2, you have the layers of panel 1 on each other. Then, you put the right side fabric of 2 to the right side of 1, the wrong side of 2 to the wrong side of 1 and stitch through all layers, and then turn panel 2 back to hide the allowance.

20200417_213342

The main panels constructed

 

The gussets were a bit challenging, as I wanted to sandwich them inbetween the layers. After cutting the slash, I ironed both sides inward, put the gussed inbetween and based the layers in place. Then I topstitched right around the gusset, the basting keeping the underlayers in place. It’s not perfect, but for a first time trying this out I’m pretty happy with it.

20200418_115246

Gusset with only the basting in place

 

I was planning to make these fairly simple, but then I noticed basically all existent Regency long stays have cording, so I wanted to have some too. I used the method described by the Laced Angel here. Basically, I stitched all lines first, and then inserted cording with afterwards with a darning needle. It definitely took some fiddling and pliers, but the cording does add that Regency touch!

20200418_195744

The eyelets are hand sewn, and aside from the cording there are a couple of bones still. Most are 7mm wide 1mm thick synthethic whalebone, but around the center back and on the back/side seam I used 6mm wide 1.5mm thick ones as those places take most strain. There is also a wooden busk in the front to keep that line straight and help separate the bust cups.

 

During the final fitting, the bust turned out to still be a little too high, so I cut about 1cm off the top before stitching on the binding with drawstring. It also turned out the bone between side and back seam was digging in a bit (my fault for not boning my mock-up…), so I shortened that in the channel which fixed it.

Fitting: the bustline is too high, and the bone on the seam in the side/back was digging in whenever I let my arm down.

 

All in all, I’m very happy with how this turned out! It feels more comfortable than my old ones, and also gives me a better silhouette. Regency is all about the ‘lift and separate’ look, and while my old ones did the lift, the separate wasn’t much there.

I can also put them on by myself, despite the back lacing. The trick is very long lacing, wriggling in with the lacing in front, tightening it a bit, turning it around on the body, and tightening one final time. It doesn’t look very elegant, but it works. I’ve wrapped the rest of the lacing cord around my waist, as tying off properly is the only thing I can’t get done on my own. It works fine for putting them on for fittings though!

20200425_174344

20200425_174351

20200425_174419

 

The only problem now is that my old dresses don’t fit quite right on my new stays. I’ll look into re-making them if I can, but this is also a good excuse to make new ones! The advantage of regency dresses is that they are fairly quick to make, so I might have some new projects to show fairly soon…

1895 Ball gown – Bodice

The ball I was making my 1895 gown for was supposed to be today. Instead, it’ll happen next year. But the dress is finished, so to celebrate the occasion, instead here’s my post about making it!

IMG_0168

 

 

The bodice of this dress was difficult mostly because for a long time, I didn’t know exactly how to trim it. I knew I wanted extravagant trim, but not exactly what. I had an antique beaded collar-like piece which seemed perfect first, but had rather wide shoulder pieces which didn’t fully fit the 1895 style. So when I started off, I decided to just do the base bodice first.

I used TV493 – 1896 Plain Bodice as a base. It’s not a ballgown bodice, but the goal was to get the basic shape and as usual for me with TV patterns, it fit almost perfectly out of the envelope.

20200308_181111

First bodice fitting, pretty good!

 

The bodice is made of 3 layers, silk organza, silk dupioni and white cotton. I sewed all layers together and then treated them as one.

After the base was sewn and the bottom finished with binding tape, it was time to decide on the neckline. My original piece of trim was definitely too wide for the shoulder, but I got another one, and this one was more promising.

Left the original plan. Super pretty, but too wide for the shoulder. To the right the new plan: it fits better, but needs something more.

 

The new beaded piece was also in a bit of a shabby state, as the threads had faded from black to light brown, something you see more often with old black dyes. I decided to re-dye the piece to make it look better. I tested first on another old faded piece, and when the threads didn’t disintegrate, I moved on to the trim piece. It’s still not 100% black, but the brown is a lot darker and less noticeable.

Before & after dye. The little round thing was my dye test.

 

Aside from the beaded piece, I knew I wanted something more. In the end, I found this fashion plate which has a somewhat similarly shaped front piece. I took inspiration from that and created organza ‘poofs’ running from the beaded piece unto the shoulder line. I also found black antique lace in my stash, and used that to both fill in the neckline and create extra interest around the sleeves and back neckline.

The rough  inspiration for the bodice

 

20200322_124928

Trying out stuff. The only piece I ended up leaving out is the little extra beaded piece CF at the top.

 

Finally,  I added velvet trim. The skirt has velvet trim as main accent, and I wanted to create a bit of cohesion. I added it along the bottom, and then decided to also put it on the back seams.

20200411_120628

 

The sleeves were created after most of the trim was put on, especially the organza poofs and lace run into the sleeve seam, so had to be done first. I used the TV495 – 1890’s Sleeves pattern as I wanted different sleeves as came with the bodice. I ended up using view 5, but without the ruffle to get short ballgown sleeves. The sleeves have a fitted inner layer, and an outer layer of the organza + dupioni. To make them poof, they have a structure between those two layers. As the inner layer is fitted, it’s not possible to wear separate sleeve supports. So instead, I consulted Janet Arnold and found a ‘sleeve interlining of black stiffened cotton’ in the pattern for the 1894-5 London Museum dress. Via the Foundations Revealed live-calls, I’d already heard Luca talk about these, and I made mine of tarlatan after his suggestion.

20200321_110310

Comparing sleeve shapes from TV & Janet Arnold

 

This layer of tarlatan is pleated and attached at the top of the sleeve. It stands out sharply, and holds up the outer sleeve perfectly! I just have to be careful not to squish the bodice. Of course, it would also loose shape when wet, but given my dress is silk I planned on avoiding that anyway.

 

The sleeves were stitched in by hand, as I was handling a good nr. of layers. Silk organza and silk dupioni in ruffles, pleated tarlatan ( so 3 layers at times), cotton inner sleeve and the silk organza, silk dupioni and cotton of the bodice. I also made sure to attach the sleeves pretty high on the shoulder, as is typical of this era.

20200410_182038

 

The very last thing to do was to add boning, and closures. The dress closes center front, underneath the beaded trim. I debated putting in a center back closure, but eventually decided this’d be nicer for getting in/out by myself. There’s hooks and eyes center front, and the beaded piece is only stitched down on one side. When the center front is closed, the beading can be closed on the other side as well with hooks and eyes. This does mean the beading is handled on closing the bodice, so to give it a bit more stability I backed it to another layer of black silk organza. The lace filling up the neckline is attached to the organza on both sides, so it closes with the beading.

20200404_145449

Backing the beaded piece with organza

How the bodice closes:

 

Because I didn’t want to directly put the dress in my closet again, I wore it for pictures across the street last week. I’m already looking forward to wearing it again next year!

IMG_0150IMG_0070

 

I also took it for a twirl!

IMG_0260IMG_0269

Ravenclaw cape

This was a totally unplanned project, but with events postponed and weekends freed up, I figured I could spend some time on something like this!

American Duchess posted the pattern for this 1912 cape on their Patreon before, and now released it to everyone! I’d seen pictures of both the original and Nicole’s reproduction, and really loved both, so I couldn’t resist checking my stash. Therein I found blue wool (leftover from my blue spencer, way back) and brown linen (planned for a red cloak which hasn’t happened yet), and my Ravenclaw self couldn’t resist.

Reville & Rossiter Ltd. Cashmere and velvet cloak with silk taffeta lining, c. 1912

The original, which is in a private collection

 

I made the whole cloak, from scaling up the pattern to finishing up in a day. It’s fairly simple and doesn’t require much fitting, so it was perfect as a change from the big, involved 1890’s project.

The first step was getting the pattern on paper, which included counting all the squares, and then drawing it on my own square paper. Added difficulty was that it’s impossible to get inch paper here, so mine is in cm instead. Luckily, I do have a clear inch ruler, which makes it easier again.

 

Second step was cutting the fabric, and transferring all the markings!

 

I then first sewed all the wool layers and pressed them, and then all the linen layers. My main reason to do it this way was so I didn’t have to change out the threads in my machine too much. (Also, it was very tempting to just get one layer done first to try it on!)

 

When both layers were constructed, I made the collar and stitched that onto the wool. And then it was time to sew both layers to each other right sides together! Leaving a bit at the bottom open to turn it inside out, this neatly hides all seams and catches the collar between layers.

 

After turning it inside out, I gave it a good press and then finished the bottom edge and ‘points’ of the front flaps by hand. The first because that was where it was turned, the second so I could test the length before I finished them. The final step was adding closures to those front flaps, and then she was done!

 

I really like how it turned out, and the wool actually matches quite well with my blue wool skirt, which is a good accident!

20200406_153521-0120200406_153743-01

 

Some more finished pictures:

20200406_15403120200406_15400120200406_15385220200406_153914

1895 Ball gown – skirt

The ball is officially postponed until next year May, but I have still been working on my gown. I want to just finish it as planned, and the first bit is now officially done!

 

The skirt of the gown is finished. She hangs a little bit oddly on my dummy, mostly because the waist needs to be properly tight to not fall down in the back, which works better on me. This was probably the most involved skirt I ever made, using a lot of different techniques and materials. I was greatly helped by the live calls at Foundations Revealed on historical skirts and sewing techniques, and I tried to use as many as possible in this skirt.

The pattern was the same as I already used for my blue petticoat/skirt. The skirt has three main layers. A green silk dupioni as base, a black silk organza overlayer and a tarlatan interfacing. The tarlatan I used for the interfacing was relatively soft, so just a very lightly stiffened cotton mesh.

20200202_212735

 

The first step was to line the dupioni and tarlatan. I based all layers in place, and then sewed the main skirt seams.

20200207_204121

 

The organza layer was sewn up separately, as I wanted it to ‘float’ over the other layers. All seams were French seamed, so first with the allowance to the right side, and then again to capture the raw edge on the wrong side. I kept an opening in the same place for all layers to create the pocket. The two skirts were then put on top of another, and the back was pleated all layers together, and stitched in place.

For the waistband, I used two layers of dupioni and one layer of organza. It’s made to be as thin as possible, so I folded over the dupioni at the top and the edges in on the inside, and the organza over the dupioni at the top and in at the bottom. Then the top and bottom were stitched to keep everything in place.

This means the waistband was completely finished before stitching on the skirt. To do this, I first did a running stitch over the ‘flat’ skirt pannels to ever so slightly ease it. Then, the skirt layers were folded over right above that stitch and whipped to the underside of the waistband through all skirt layers. This way, the raw seam allowance lies downwards to the inside of the skirt and there is no bulk at all in the waistband itself.

Whip stitching the waistband on:

20200222_104518

 

Pictures of the finished waistband. Showing the running stitch as well as the whip stitch (which was done from the other side).

IMG_0056

 

The edge is left raw and turned down.

IMG_0044

This is what it looks like from the outside

IMG_0045

And in the back, with the pleats. If you look very closely, you can see the whip stitches.

IMG_0043

 

 

For the pocket, I used a pattern from Patterns of Fashion, and stitched that into one of the back side seams of the dupioni/tarlatan layer. Then I folded the organza to the inside of the pocked and hand-sewed it in place, so I can access the pocket easily despite the skirt layers. The top of the pocket has a little bit of tape which attaches it to the waistband, so the weight does not hang from the skirt seam.

The pocket slit from the outside, and the pocket as it looks when turning the skirt inside-out.

 

For the hem, I used another layer of tarlatan, this time a bit stiffer. This was cut to size, and then a layer of black cotton was put overtop and sewn to the bottom of the skirt (by machine) and whip stitched down at the top, completely hiding the tarlatan. This extra layer helps the skirt keeps its shape.

 

To further shape the skirt, ties are sewn to the inside, starting next to the center front panel. This tape gets increasingly narrower towards the back, making sure all the pleats of the skirt stay towards the back when moving around. I tacked the organza layer to the same place as the tape was attached to ensure it would behave similarly.

The spot in which the organza is tacked to the rest (it’s not as poofy normally), and the tape in the back.

 

As decoration, the skirt has an extra layer of organza at the bottom, topped by a velvet ribbon. This extra organza layer was cut to size and stitched on, the ribbon was machine stitched on top. The extra layer is only attached to the organza skirt layer, so it too moves separately from the base layer.

IMG_0048

 

Both layers of organza were hemmed by first running a machine stitch along the bottom edge, then turning it up twice (firstly along the machine stitch), and whip stitching it in place by hand. Basically, the entire skirt was hemmed by hand three times. Let’s just say the hemming took a while.

 

And then it was done! I’m very happy with how it turned out, and how much structure it has. The two fabrics are beautiful together, and especially in movement you get a subtle shift of how dark it is as the black organza moves differently from the green base layer.

 

Next up is the ball gown bodice! The base of that is done, but it still needs a lot of trim and general fancying-up.