1660’s bodice – foundations

I’ve gotten quite a long way on my 1660’s dress, and the base of the bodice is nearing completion. Time for a blog post about the interior, as it’s quite interesting on it’s own!

Although stays were already worn in the 17th century, the particular type of bodice I’m making does not need stays. Instead, the bodice itself is heavily boned to provide the support.

I started making my bodice with the guidance of the book Seventeenth Century Women’s dress patterns. It shows close-ups, an x-ray picture (to see the boning), patterns and full construction notes for every original garment. I based my bodice on this one from the book.

Pale-coloured silk satin bodice, 1660-1669, V&A. Decorated with parchment lace. The boned foundations is made from twelve pattern pieces, reinforced at places with up to three extra layers of linen. The middle side panel is unboned but stiffened with buckram and wool and may be a later addition to increase the size...

 

I made some changes to construction though, mostly because I machine-sewed the parts I could without it showing on the outside. I also didn’t always add every extra layer of linen. The original has loads of little extra pieces stitched in in places, and most of those I left out.

While the outer layer was attached entirely by hand, the foundation is therefore not constructed in a historical accurate way, just as a disclaimer.

First step was adapting the pattern. I’d scaled it up, but made it a bit too big, so had to take it in again. I also took away most of the bust curve in front as I didn’t need it, and I lowered the neckline. Many 17th century bodices are quite low, with maybe a shift on top to make them a bit more modest.

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Copying the pattern to cm grid so I could scale up to my full size cm gridded pattern paper.

 

Not too much though.

Gerard Soest (1600-1681) Portrait of a Lady seated at a table with a jewel casket

Because I don’t think this one could’ve been much lower…

 

Being rather small on top, that means I could cut it lower than the original. I also changed the angle of the straps slightly so they would still lay over the shoulder okay.

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2nd mock-up. With a busk for fitting purposes.

 

After fitting, it was time to start the sewing! I used sturdy linen for the foundation. Every piece has 2 layers of linen. First step was drawing the boning channels on top, trying to follow both the original lines and accounting for different pattern shapes and bone width.

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Sewing the boning channels took some time, even by machine. I respect those who do this by hand.

One piece in the original is unboned, and instead stiffened by extra layers of linen buckram and wool. I used coutil because I didn’t have buckram (I know cotton coutil isn’t period), and some leftover wool from another project. Those layers were pad-stitched together for extra support.

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After that, I sewed all pieces together, again by machine.

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The trickiest part was a little gusset added between two of the tabs, for a little extra flare. It worked quite well on the body! It’s just sewn in by laying it next to the foundation and sewing it together. Both sides will be covered anyway, by lining or outer layer.

 

After that I put the boning in, I could still reach most places after construction. The only construction done after the boning was the strap, as that closes off the channels. I used 5mm wide German synthethic whalebone for this project. I’d gotten a 25m roll, and after my 1880’s corset and this bodice I had 2cm left over… Suffice to say you need a lot of meters for continuous boning like this!

 

The foundation layer also has a pocket for the busk. This was gone in the original, but is there in most other examples of such bodices. It’s basically a strip of linen sewn to the inside, and a pocket at the tip.

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Insides. All seams are stitched down, necessary because the linen is so thick it doesn’t lay nicely flat otherwise.

 

The final step of the foundation was to bind the bottom of the front panels, and the top of the back panels. These are the places where the allowance of outer layer will be turned in between the layers and sewn down. (The bottom of the back panels will be bound all layers together, the top of the front will be finished by turning the allowance of the outer layer to the inside around the linen.

 

That finished the foundation! It already looks really great, the most annoying thing at this point was not being able to try it on yet. The eyelets are sewn through the outer layer as well, so no way to close it yet until those layers are on and all eyelets are in.

At the moment I’ve only got a little bit of trimming and sleeves to do, so when those are done I’ll show the bodice with the golden silk and trim on top!

 

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Blog anniversary

My blog is 4 years old today! In summer 2013 I started my first big historical sewing project. I’d only made a (not very accurate) Regency dress before, and this project was a 1860s dinner dress including all undergarments, so quite a leap. When this blog started I was still working on that dress, and suffice to say that project got me hooked!

Since starting historical costuming, I’ve made 4 corsets, 4 chemises, 2 pairs of drawers, a corset cover, two hoop skirts, a bustle cage, a bum pad, five petticoats and a balayeuse. That’s the underwear list (it’s mostly stored in one very, very full box).

My first and last Victorian corset. Still room for improvement, but it’s definitely moving in the right direction.

 

For outer wear, I’ve now made dresses/outfits for 7 different era’s. Late medieval, 1810’s, 1820’s, 1860’s, 1870’s, 1900’s and 1920’s. Aditionally, there are 2 spencer jackets, one mantelet, a jacket and 4 head pieces. Accessories really do finish a look.

My first and last regency outfit. Left was a dress only (no period underwear yet), right is a chemise, stays, petticoat, dress, spencer and bonnet. The left dress was a great place to start costuming though! (Right image by Martijn van Huffelen)

 

It’s always fun to look back, and a good reminder that your current skill level always matters a lot less than the fun you have in making and wearing your outfits. The whole process of research and discovery and learning is such an important part for me, and the great thing is that there’s always so much more to learn!

At the moment there are two more outfits in the making, and I’ve got loads of plans for more! Suffice to say, I haven’t grown tired of this hobby yet in the past four years.

Since starting this blog I also made a Facebook page and Instagram account for it. I just saw that I reached a 1000 followers on the Facebook page this week, which is honestly still a bit unreal to me! A big advantage of Facebook is connecting with other enthusiasts through groups, and Instagram is great for showing progress. Nevertheless, I still really value the more in-depth view a blog offers, so this one will definitely continue to exist as well. In any case: to anyone who has been following me, thank you!

One of the things that inspired me to get started with historical sewing were the other sewing blogs out there. I still really enjoy seeing other peoples projects, so to close this anniversary post a shout-out to some of the blogs that really inspire me!

The Dreamstress

This was the first historical sewing blog I stumbled upon, and I actually went all the way to the beginning to read the whole thing (that took a while). This blog really inspired me to get started on the big, elaborate projects, and to do it right.

Before the Automobile

One thing most historical costumers strife for is to look as you’ve stepped out of a photograph. To really get the silhouette, details and accessories right. This lady does that so well, and the way her dresses are fitted is perfection.

Prior Attire

Izabella runs her own business sewing historical pieces, and has made so many lovely pieces from all different era’s. On her blog she shares loads of advice, and I’m always impressed with how generous she is with her knowledge. Plus, I briefly met her at her Victorian ball last year, and she was a lovely host as well!

 

 

 

 

 

 

1880s corset

The mid-1880’s are all about the dramatic silhouette. The bustle is back in full force, and the fashion is for a small waist, full bust and relatively broad shoulders. In fashion plates you can clearly see this fashionable shape, which is of course exaggerated to near impossible proportions.

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I’ve started working on my first 1880’s dress, which will be a burgundy wool winter gown. Although I already have a 1870’s corset, I wanted to try to approximate the fashionable shape of the 1880’s a bit more. In my case that meant padding in the bust area, as there’s no way I can achieve (or even approximate) it naturally…

That’s when the idea for a new corset started, to be patterned on top of a padded bra. In my previous post I showed the process of patterning, and afterwards I could finally start making the corset!

It’s a single layer coutil corset, so there’s no extra lining or fashion layer. First order of business was inserting the busk. Because there’s no extra lining, I cut a facing for the center front, and the bust is inserted between the facing and outer layer.

 

 

 

I really love cording on corsets, and wanted to incorporate it in this one as well. As first I was wondering if it’d be possible with a single layer, but then I saw this corset on a visit to Stockholm. As you can see, there’s an extra piece of fabric placed on top of the main fabric to serve as corded panel.

Corset ca. 1860-90  From the Nordiska Museet

 

I decided to copy this method. Using small pieces of black taffeta, I stitched 15 thin cords onto the two front panels (on each side). As in the example above, I left the bottom and top piece of the taffeta uncorded.

I made a test piece first. cm next to it to see the tiny cords.

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After that, I corded the actual corset panels.

 

 

 

Construction was done after the cording, and was pretty straight-forward, I didn’t take a lot of pictures of these steps. All pieces were stitched with wrong sides together, leaving the seam allowances on the outside.

The boning channels were made from a cotton polyester mix, leftover fabric from my red spencer. The red with the black gives a lot of extra drama, and you do see contrasting boning channels in the 1880’s quite a bit, such as this yellow-black combination.

Corset, 1880-93

 

5cm wide strips were cut and sewn into tunnels with a 5mm allowance, creating 2cm wide tunnels. Those were then stitched on top of the (trimmed) seam allowances and stitched on in the center and to the side. This created space for 2 5mm wide bones (synthethic whalebone) in each channel. The center back also has a facing, creating 2 layers for the eyelets and an extra channel next to the bones. I also added one more boning channel for 1 bone next to the eyelets. Both this one and the center back were flat steel bones for extra strength.

 

 

 

After the boning channels the boning was cut, the edges molten (plastic is so much easier to finish than steel!), and inserted into the corset. The binding was machine stitched on, I used regular black cotton bias tape.

 

 

 

The final big step was the flossing. I love the fancy decorative flossing you see so often in the 1880’s. I looked around for inspiration, and eventually settled on the design of the corset below. I like the flowers, and how it covers 2 bones.

Terminology: What’s the difference between stays, jumps & a corset | The Dreamstress

 

I made a little prick-template so I could place dots on strategic places of the embroidery pattern. This way, all the bones will have the same size and proportion flossing. I adapted the pattern slightly to also floss the single bones in the center back.

 

 

 

Before you begin flossing it feels like you’re almost done, but I think the embroidery might’ve taken as much time as all the rest of construction… I did 20 double bone motifs and 4 single bone, the double bone ones took about 25 minutes to complete each. And that’s without the test sample.

But, it’s done! I’m really happy with how this came out and I really love the shape. If I ever find some narrow antique black lace I might decorate the top, but as I don’t have that in the stash for now I’m calling it done.

The front and side:

 

 

And side-front and back:

 

Entering the 17th century

Those who follow my instagram account might have already seen that I’m currently working on a gown from ca. 1660.

This project started with a ball. There’s a yearly new-years ball in Gent, in the opera there. I’ve been wanting to go for a while but timing has been off (I was on holiday last year). This year I was talking with another costumer about it and we decided to go! Last years theme was 19th century, but this year it’s going back in time. Inspired by Versailles, the dress code is now 1660 – 1715.

So that means I need a new dress! I’ve decided to go for the early limit of the dress code, as I’d been looking at 1660’s fashions for a bit longer and those are best represented in research as well. As often happens, I started with looking for fabric. I wanted real silk, but keeping it affordable means searching for bargains and that often means picking from whatever happens to be available.

I got really lucky with fabric, and found a golden upholstery silk with a pattern quite suitable for the era. When I got it the color was absolutely stunning. It’s a bit of an ‘older’, antique golden color. What’s even better, it goes perfectly with the antique metallic lace I found a little while back.

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The materials decide the style in this case, and I decided to go for a style that would fit with lace trimming. Lucky for me, many of the existent 1660’s bodices have lace trim and work very well with my materials.

To help with the patterning and construction I also got a new book, seventeenth century women’s dress patterns (part II). It’s absolutely brilliant, showing close up pictures of both inside and outside the garments, x-rays that show the boning, patterns for both exterior and foundation layers and full construction notes.

Afbeeldingsresultaat voor seventeenth-century women's dress patterns book 2

 

Even better, it has all of that for this 1660-1670 bodice:

Pale-coloured silk satin bodice, 1660-1669, V&A. Decorated with parchment lace. The boned foundations is made from twelve pattern pieces, reinforced at places with up to three extra layers of linen. The middle side panel is unboned but stiffened with buckram and wool and may be a later addition to increase the size...

 

So that’s the base for my pattern. The skirt will be a pleated rectangle, so doable without any patterning.

For the rest of this post: some more pictures of what I’m going for, as inspiration!

One other dress in this style is the silver tissue gown I saw in Bath last year. So stunning in person.

Ca. 1660 silver tissue dress with parchment lace. Fashion museum Bath

 

I love this painting as well, as it shows the combination of patterned gold silk with lace.

Knallhattens osorterade tankar: Sveriges vackraste porträtt

Magnus Gabriel De la Gardie with his spouse Maria Eufrosyne of Pfalz-Zweibrücken, the sister of King Charles X of Sweden. Painting from 1653 by Hendrik Munnichhoven

 

It’s a style you see quite a lot in Dutch paintings. You do get quite some differences between countries the further back you go in history, and I like the idea of making something that could’ve been worn in the Netherlands.

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Bartholomeus van der Helst: Abraham del Court and his Wife, 1654

 

American Duchess:Historical Costuming | Historical Costuming and sewing of Rococo 18th century clothing, 16th century through 20th century, by designer Lauren Reeser

Bartholomeus van der Helst, Jeanne Parmentier, 1656

 

All of the above show thin linen or lace collars, but you also see what’s more like a thin linen shift above the dress. This is probably what I’ll go for as well for the ball, as it feels a bit more like evening wear.

Isaack Luttichuys   Datering   ca. 1660 (1655 - 1665)  Titel  Portrait of a lady with a fan

Isaac Luttichuys, ca. 1660

 

Details of Dutch fashion of 1658 include a string of pearls tied with a black ribbon, a jack-bodice with matching skirt, pleated sleeves, and dropped shoulder.

Mieris Frans, Duet, 1658

 

At this point I’m done with the foundation layer of linen and boning, and ready to start patterning the top silk layer!

Corset patterning

I’ve started a new corset, 1880’s this time. My goal for this one was two-fold, firstly to try to pattern it on top of a padded bra to give a little more curve. Corsets tend to flatten me a bit up top, and while fashionable in some periods, the 1880’s were all about the hourglass. The second goal was to take a little more time patterning to get it just right.

I haven’t even cut the coutil I’ll be using yet, but that first step of patterning is done. I thought it might be interesting to see the process of slowly adapting the pattern to fit.

I should also give a shout-out to the corset making community of ‘Foundations Revealed’, a online magazine/coaching subscription website including facebook group, where I got some great feedback on my progress.

I started with the 1880’s pattern from Corsets & Crinolines by Nora Waugh.

1880 waugh

 

I didn’t have a scanner, so I eyeballed the pattern onto gridded mm paper until I had the height and waist measurement about right, and the pattern pieces had the same proportions as in the book. I then copied the pattern to full size cm paper and started from there.

The black lines were the pattern as roughly copied from the book. I measured it and found it small, so the red lines are the added width for the first mock-up.

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When fitting, I found I shouldn’t have added the extra space, the corset was too big. So the second mock-up went back to the black lines. Additionally, I found that the corset was too short on me. So I lengthened the pattern by adding a couple of cm above the waist line. This picture shows that pattern, laid out on top of the original.

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This one was much better, starting to fit. It was still short, so I added some more length to the pattern. I also added a little room to the hips on the side, and took some away from the bust and center front bottom curve, as those were too big.

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This was the first one I made a mock-up off in sturdy fabric, including busk and lacing, but no boning yet. The overall fit wasn’t bad, but the busk was tilting quite badly. I’ve had this happen on previous corsets, and thought it might just be me not lacing it straight, but it was too extreme to be a coincidence.  I also didn’t really like the inverted ‘c’ shape the third panel was making over the hip.

Mockup1

 

I suspected the tilting was because I wasn’t symmetrical, so to test this I took a picture of myself, standing solidly on 2 feet. I then traced my outlines on both sides, and then copied the lines to overlap on the other side. As you can see quite clearly, one hip is both a little higher and wider than the other. The things you learn about yourself when sewing…

Bodyshape

 

So, for the next mock-up I made a left and right version. Basically, I added some hip space for the right-hand version. I also transferred some hip room from panel 3 to 4 to make the pattern shape a bit nicer, and I added 1cm at the top. I’d added that in the previous mock-up and it was still a bit low, so I figured 1cm extra room at least would be good.

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This next mock-up I also boned, which makes quite a difference. Also: the hip fixes worked, as it wasn’t tilting anymore, yay! The whole corset was still a bit low at the top though, and I still had too much room center front bottom.

Mockup2.jpg

 

I added even more space up top, and took away a bit of the bottom. I also took away more of the curve on the bottom of panel 2.

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The final mock-up was really close. The height is finally good here, and it’s curving quite nicely. It was a slightly sturdier fabric than the previous one, and I noticed that made it a little tight in the hips.

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So the only things I changed for the last draft was to add a little more hip room, mostly on panel 5 as that didn’t have much flare yet. In this picture you can see the final pattern, laying on top of the one I started with!

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The main changes were that I added some length above the waist, and above the original bustline, lengthening the corset quite extensively. I took away some bust and tummy space, and added space for my hips. Finally, I made a left and right hand version to accommodate my own asymmetry.

Now it’s time to cut the coutil, and start planning the boning channels and cording. It’ll be a single layer black coutil corset with red external channels.

 

‘Uit de mode’ – Fashion exhibition Centraal Museum Utrecht

This year it was a 100 years ago that the first fashion curator was appointed in the Centraal museum in Utrecht, and in honor of that they held a fashion exhibition called ‘uit de mode’.

It was organized in themes: the maker, wearer, restorer and visionary. It also spanned the whole time-line of their collection, often drawing parallels between their historical and modern collections.

I only took pictures of the historical pieces, as those were my main interest in coming to the exhibition. I’ve got all images on my facebook page and pinterest. In this post, a couple of my favorite items!

One of the first items on display was this 18th century cotton toile de jouy petticoat. With lovely pleating up top (flatter towards the front), and a cord running along the hem to protect it from wear.

 

This 1830’s dress was one of the first buys a 100 years ago. With gorgeous lace along the edges.

 

One of the show pieces, 1760 robe a la francaise with gorgeous embroidery. I also liked how the robings ran all the way down to the hem.

 

An Edwardian cotton and lace gown. With all the small lovely details and pin-tucks you see so often in this style. This one is definitely on my wish-list to recreate one day. Made of swiss dotted cotton and two types of lace the material part at least would be doable. (Now for time…)

 

Another show piece, a 1886 Worth gown. Very unusual pleating on the top skirt, lovely rose fabric for the underskirt and a spectacular train.

 

Cotton regency. This fabric was super-sheer, and in remarkable condition. I also quite liked how the sleeves were actually pleated and attached on top!

1805-1810 gown of white batist. Collection page: http://centraalmuseum.nl/ontdekken/object/?img_only=1#o:4247

 

Another regency piece, and another showstopper. A lavender court train of moire silk with pearl embroidery. Probably never worn, and it might have belonged to Hortense de Beauharnais.

 

This ensemble isn’t quite as spectacular as the train, but I still really loved it. The fabric especially was gorgeous and shiny, and the lace was really the perfect touch. Another one for the wish-list…

 

To continue with beautiful fabric, this dress also had some stunning silk. I also really love the bodice and the neckline in particular.

 

To finish, two 18th century ensembles. This one is a caraco I’d seen before on a depot visit, and it was really nice to see it displayed. Shown on top of a stunning red quilted petticoat.

 

The other chintz/quilted ensemble. A chintz robe a l’anglaise on top of a light blue silk quilted petticoat. Again, gorgeous fabric and details, and I loved the pleating on the dress.

Life & plans

It’s been a bit quiet here on the blog, mostly because I’ve barely sewed the last month. The main reason is that I was very busy finishing my PhD dissertation, which was due end of august. I made the deadline (yay!), submitted the draft and now only have administrative stuff to do. That firstly means time for a holiday, but I’ve also been planning some new sewing projects. I’ll have some more time before I start a new job, and some new costume events coming up, so that means plans are being made!

The first plan is a new era for me, late 17th century! There’s a new-years ball in Gent in the opera, and after thinking about going for a couple of years that’s now definite. The dress code for this year is 1660-1715, so I’m going to make something new.

I’ve been eyeing some golden silk, so maybe something like this:

http://i55.tinypic.com/296goed.jpg

I really love the pearls with the black bows on this dress.

Although if I find some (affordable) silk satin something like this might also still be in the running. I do really like the ‘open’ front.

Princess Mary Henrietta (1631–1660), Princess Royal, Princess of Orange by Gerrit van Honthorst National Trust – Ashdown HouseAtelier Nostalgia | Nostalgic musings, on historical clothing, traditional costume, fantasy, photography and history.

 

Another big project I’ve been thinking about is a 1880’s wool winter dress. Ever since I got my Victorian winter boots I’ve been eyeing wool and braid dresses. Plus: there’s a winter event in December I could wear it to.

Things might change, but this is the idea I have so far. Burgundy wool, black faux fur and loads of braiding (because why make it easy).

Winter bustle

 

These two are the bigger plans, but I also have some other things going on.

Firstly, I’ve started on a pair of 18th century stays. No plans for a dress yet, but I figured I’d start on the underwear so that once I have an event for it, I’d have a foundation to build on.

The main layers are already sewn together (green linen outer layer), but this is me planning out the boning channels. I’m also planning on some decorative stitching on these. (the black swirlies)

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Additionally, I’ve been thinking on making an 1880’s corset. I don’t necessarily need a new one, by 1870’s one would do for the winter dress, but I’d like trying out some new things. Particularly shaping me towards the pattern a bit more, instead of the other way around. In other words: padding. I’ve got most of the materials I’d need in stock, so it won’t cost much extra. It’d be one layer of black coutil with red contrasting boning channels, german whalebone bones and flossing.

I saw this corset in person last week, and really liked the contrast panels for the cording, so I might try to incorporate that as well.

Fripperies and Fobs Corset ca. 1860-90 From the NORDISKA MUSEET

 

I’ve also got fabric for two vintage dresses. One 1940’s black with flowers, and one 1950’s plaid. Especially the first one has been planned for a while, so I’d like to get started on these as well.

This is the pattern for the plaid dress, I’ve got a grey-black one with a small blue stripe to make it.

Afbeeldingsresultaat voor SIMPLICITY - 8251

 

So these are the plans for the coming months! I’ll see how far I get, although I have a break between jobs I also have a tendency to plan a little too much. The coming weeks I’ll be on holiday, and after that I’ll get started!

Late 15th century burgundian gown

After making a medieval smock and kirtle, it was finally time to start on the dress that started the whole medieval journey: a silk damask burgundian gown.

This project originally started with this fabric, which I found for a bargain and couldn’t resist.

2017

It took a while to decide what to use it for, but eventually this painting convinced me to make a late 15th century burgundian gown.

c.1449 Late Middle Ages- Houppelande Gown

Mine will be a little narrower through the bust and sleeves and with a wider neckline, making it a bit more late 15th century.

The journey started with figuring out the layers here, and I eventually decided to make a smock, front-lacing kirtle, placket for the neckline and burgundian with black velvet collar and cuffs.

I adapted the pattern from my kirtle to make the burgundian gown. I drafted the collar following the book the Medieval tailor’s assistant, and gave a little extra space around the waist. Not too much, as I was going for a rather fitted version of the burgundian.

IMG_20170624_193843 (700x700)

Inspiration picture for the shape and pattern adaption. Bottom left shows the kirtle pattern behind the new draft of the burgundian (front). Wider shoulder with drawn-on collar, extending the line below the waist, and slightly widened on the side as well. Bottom left is fitting with sheets! 

 

The skirt was drafted following the layout kindly shared by A dressmakers’ workshop here. Basically, the front opening is put on the straight of fabric, the skirt angling away, and only the back has a wide gore. Because the way the front is cut, the fabric falls to the front and you only need the back gore. It’s quite clever, and makes for very efficient cutting.

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My cutting lay out. Front and back are facing the same way. The gore was cut on the fold of the empty part at the top. Upside down, but as you can see on the right you have to look closely to see when the fabric turns.

 

I got a bit lucky with the fabric in that the center of the pattern was close to the selvage of the fabric, so I could cut rather efficiently despite having to pattern match. I did opt to cut the back gore the other way around than the rest of the dress. You have to look quite closely to notice the pattern is upside down there, and I now have enough fabric left to make something else with the rest.

I did all the main seams by machine, and finishing by hand. When I’d put in the back gore, however, I didn’t like how it fell. I put it too far down, when it should’ve extended directly from the waist. So unpicking happened, and I moved it up a bit, which worked a lot better.

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Left was before; right after. Much better

 

After the main construction, it was part to work on the lining including the collar. I somehow got the idea to only line the top part and hem. Not the easiest thing in retrospect, but I didn’t have enough fabric to do it otherwise, so partial lining it was! The velvet for the collar was sewn to the lining, and then the whole thing was sewn onto the dress and turned inside out. Took a little fiddling, but I got it right in the end. This tutorial by Izabella from Prior Attire was very helpful!

IMG_20170709_203818 (700x700)

 

The collar finished, back and front. Still has some pins at this point, I later tacked the collar to the dress to help it stay flat.

IMG_20170709_203840 (700x700)

 

Next up: Sleeves! I adapted the sleeves from my kirtle pattern slightly, just widening it a bit in the bottom part so it would still fit over my kirtle. The bottom of the sleeves have black velvet cuffs.

IMG_20170729_170214 (700x700)

Top right shows sleeve fitting, here shown with the dress turned inside out, so you can also see where the lining stops. Bottom right is sewing on the cuffs, left the finished sleeves.

 

After the sleeves, the final thing was the hem lining. I made it about 50cm wide, which just fit out of my fabric with careful planning. I wanted it this wide so I could pull up the skirt to my belt, as walking outside in a train at events isn’t usually the best idea.

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Top: finished inserted sleeves. Bottom left: pinning down the hem facing before hand-stitching it in place. Bottom right: tucking the skirt into my belt. Doesn’t work too well yet because the belt is elastic, but shows the general idea.

 

Of course, you cannot wear a medieval burgundian gown without some sort of crazy head wear. I eventually want to make a steeple hennin with butterfly veil, but I ended up finishing my dress 3 days before an event. Because the large hennin would take more than 3 days and it’s a good plan to have a slightly more practical head wear choice as well, I made a shorter henin for the event.

The lady in yellow has the hanging part of the veil folded back up. Note the gold loops. This image is from King René's tournament book.

The crazy steeple hennin with butterfly veil. Unpractical, but fun!

Google Image Result for http://resources42.kb.nl/MIMI/MIMI_MMW_10A11/MIMI_MMW_10A11_235R_MIN_2.JPG

For now, I went for something more like this.

First up was a fillet of black velvet. Cut on the bias so it stretches around the head, this is worn as a type of head-band and serves to keep the head dress in place. It also has the very characteristic black loop over the forehead. I tried to turn a velvet tube inside-out, but my pulling thread broke half-way through so I finished the loop by hand.

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Black velvet fillet with black forehead loop.

 

The pattern for the hennin is from the Medieval tailor’s assistant again, the base made out of buckram. I covered it in black silk, with a cotton black lining (because I ran out of linen). The side edges are turned over, the top and bottom finished with binding. Velvet at the bottom, to make it grip to the fillet better. The sides were stitched together by hand. The finishing touch is a black velvet frontlet draped over the front of the hennin. I might make a veil as well in the future, but as I didn’t have the fabric yet I left it off for now.

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Making the hennin. Top shows the buckram (testing for size) and the lining before it’s stitched together. Bottom left is the finished hennin, bottom right is the complete thing modeled by my bear.

 

The finishing touch was to make a placket for the front of the dress out of black linen and silk. This was a day before the event, so I didn’t really take pictures. I ended up pinning the placket to the burgundian as that worked best, but it still wrinkled and shifted a bit. So I think I’ll be extending the placket to go around the body, as was my original plan.

I’m very happy with how the dress turned out, and although I have some small projects left to update it, it’s now wearable! I ended up using a black elastic belt while I look for a proper medieval version, but it actually looks surprisingly okay for something so modern.

Thanks to my friend Sophia for taking some pictures last weekend at Castlefest! I took down the small train for the images, but wore it up the rest of the day to prevent the people behind me from stepping on it.

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The fancy spencer

Today 200 years ago Jane Austen passed away. I originally thought of doing a post with pretty pictures of black and mourning dresses from around that period, but then I remembered I hadn’t written the blog for this red spencer yet. It’s a jacket which is inspired by one ca. 1820, so I’d say 1817 is reasonable enough as a date. As it’s also  nicer to see finished sewing then pretty pictures (no matter how much I like those), I decided it was a good moment to finally write this post. So, in honor of Jane:

This project has been a while in the making. I originally got the fabric a little over 3 years ago. When I planned to make a white-red regency dress, I also wanted to make a red spencer jacket to go with it, in the same red fabric of the dress details. That particular dress didn’t actually get made until last year, and once I knew exactly how much fabric I had left I started on the spencer. Now, nearly 1,5 year later, it’s done!

My previous spencer was dark blue wool, and quite simple. For this one, I therefore wanted something rather more fancy, and I really loved the decoration of this one from the MET. It has a sister with the same decoration, and the close-up pictures allowed me to clearly see the patterns.

My first order of business was to decide on how to recreate the decoration. I quickly decided I wanted soutache braid, as that would save me the trouble of making all that self-fabric cord. So I went looking for a suitable matching red soutache.

This took a while… I eventually found a beading store with many types of soutache though, and although the match wasn’t absolutely perfect, it was close enough to not matter.

Before starting the braiding though, I did a bit of a practise run drawing the little cord through the soutache to create the curves. I quickly ran into a problem: by drawing the soutache over the cord with my fingers, it frayed terribly. I couldn’t really see a way around this as the pattern was super curvy and I wanted the soutache to lay flat. So I decided to not use it after all (anyone ideas on what to do with 9m of red soutache?).

So: next plan. Making the cord myself after all… This took some fiddling to find the best method. My fabric is rather sturdy and not very thin, but I did want thin cords. So I didn’t put a cord inside. (I also didn’t really know how to do that at the time, but have since seen the method shown by Walking Through History which also creates lovely results. Much quicker than my way, but with a cord inside so a little thicker). Not using a cord meant stitching fabric strips into tubes by hand. I experimented a bit with different widths, and eventually settled on the thinnest still workable; 1cm wide. I also tried cutting them on the straight of grain first (much more fabric efficient), but the tube didn’t curve as nicely as when I cut them on the bias, so bias it was.

Transfering the pattern, fraying soutache, and comparison of fabric tubes. The top right image shows the same tubes as the bottom row. First is 2cm wide straight of grain; that gave wiggly curves. Second 2cm wide on the bias. Loads better, but still a bit squiggly. The third is 1cm wide on the bias, which is what I went for

 

And then came the sewing of fabric tubes. I kept a little bag with cord and thread and took it on the train with me every once in a while, and spent a fair number of evenings on the couch sewing.

Strings of cord starting to appear

 

I estimate I do about 10cm in 20 minutes, as it’s quite fiddly work. I also measured I’d need about 3,75 meters of cord for one side of the spencer. That’s about 7,5 meters of tube. At 30cm per hour. Suffice to say, this took a while. I had half of the cord done by summer last year and started to sew that part on.

 

It got taken on a couple of holidays. Below in sunny Portugal last summer, almost half way with the first side.

 

The first side was done briefly after that holiday. Slightly blurry picture because it was dark, but with the shadows it shows the relief nicely.

 

The other side took a bit longer as it took a backseat to the bustle dresses I worked on between September and May. But, eventually, it got done!

 

Once I finished the trimming, I put together the spencer quite quickly. I’d already cut all the pieces before, which really helped. I also had an photoshoot coming up where I was going to wear my red-white dress, and figured it’d be the perfect first outing for the spencer as well. Some more hasty sewing ensued, and eventually I got it done before the event!

The sleeves were the trickiest part to finish. I’d already started on their decoration as well and all the parts were cut out, but I did that over a year ago, so it took a little figuring out. My main inspiration was this spencer, also from the MET.

 

I started experimenting by twisting strips of fabric around another strip.

Experimenting to determine strip length needed. Looks very pretty no? 😉

 

I ended up using wider strips than the example and just 4 per sleeve. The strip around the arm is narrower and plain, the other strips I piped first.

Two fabric strips, piped on both sides and then turned inside out to show the right side.

 

I then twisted the piped strips around the plain one to get the twisted effect.

Sewing the twisted strips on.

 

I’m quite happy with the result, even though its a bit simpler than in the inspiration picture, and I’m happy I didn’t just do a simple plain sleeve. With how decorated the front is, it needs the slightly more fancy sleeves.

Pinning to the sleeve before setting it in.

Done!

 

I finally added a little collar. I’d originally cut this quite a bit larger but because the neckline is not all that high and I didn’t want to hide too much of the cord I narrowed it a bit.

Photoshop is good for determining shape. I wasn’t sure I even wanted a collar, but after drawing one on my picture I decided to make one after all.

Close up. Luckily the collar doesn’t hide the trim too much.

 

The spencer closes center front with hooks and eyes. The bottom is finished with a plain fabric strip, the end of the sleeves with a double row of piping.

Double piping around the sleeves.

 

I don’t yet have all the pictures from the photoshoot, so a little teaser of me wearing the spencer, seen from the back! I really love how the red-white looks with the dress, spencer and bonnet.

Picture by Martijn van Huffelen

 

 

Winter bustles (and new shoes!)

I know, it’s the middle of July, and where I am it’s the middle of summer. Despite that, I’m doing a post with pictures of winter bustle dresses. The main reason is that I got new shoes! American Duchess was having a sale, and I couldn’t resist, and I got the Victoria carriage boots. They’re black winter boots with bows in the front, and I really love them. It’s quite difficult to find proper warm winter boots that look good underneath a skirt, so I splurged, and suspect I’ll wear them quite a bit out of costume as well!

They’re so pretty!

 

Of course, having Victorian winter boots got me dreaming about wool and fur bustle dresses. So now I want to make one. I have a lot of fabric for other planned projects though, so who knows if and when that’ll happen, but until then, inspiration pictures!

Let’s start with some early bustle beauties.

La Saison 1874

Les Modes Parisiennes 1872

Les Modes Parisiennes 1874

Le Moniteur de la Mode 1874

La Gazette Rose 1873

The Englishwoman’s Domestic Magazine

 

There are also some beautiful examples from the 1880’s.

La Mode Francaise 1887

Le Salon de la Mode 1886

Der Bazar 1883

dessin original : ANONYME VERS 1870 N°9

1880s winter ensembles

 

Aside from these colored plates, I also found some black-white examples. I particularly love all the braiding on the first one.

early 1880s winter ensemble

1883 Winter

Written on border: "Jan. 1883" Printed on border: "No. 8." "Cloth and fur, either brown or grey. The under-skirt is edged with plaiting, and the over one is turetted. The readingote has a shoulder cap[e] and cuffs trimmed with fur. The waistband is fastened with a smoke[d] pearl buckle. Pattern of redingote, 3s. 1d."

MODE ILLUSTREE PATTERN Jan 7,1883- TOILETTE DE VILLE