Round gown – bodice progress

My past couple of post have been about undergarments for my 18th century project. At the same time I’ve been slowly progressing on the gown itself. I’m making a round gown, so with a full skirt, and aiming for 1780s.

My fabric is a light grey / silver silk. The pattern is somewhat old-fashioned for the 1780’s, which sees similar two-toned patterns, but which are generally more flower-like, and less baroque.

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Nevertheless, the pattern does have some more naturalistic elements. And given the penchant people had for re-using ‘older’ fabrics, I’m calling it plausible enough.

I started my patterning with the pattern for the Italian gown in the American Duchess Guide to 18th century dress making. My first mock-up was just exactly the pattern in the book, and that was already pretty close. In the end, the things I changed most were the angle of the shoulder strap, the height of the back, and the width of the strap. Below is the last mock-up.

 

After that, it was time for the scary part, cutting the fabric! Taking great care to match the pattern on all the pieces.

 

I’m sewing this dress by hand, which is why progress is relatively slow. It’s quite a suitable project for a first ‘all by hand dress’ though, as I’m not planning on adding much trim.

First up were the boning channels center back, and then constructing the back. On the back pieces all allowances were folded inward, and then all 4 layers were stitched together in one go.

 

Next up was attaching the front silk to the lining with small prick stitches. After that, I could fit again. My silk was a little less stretchy than my mock-up, so I had to let it out a bit on the side seams. (So definitely good that I did this fitting). I also took out the center-front line on each side, and re-did those as they weren’t really straight on the body after all.

 

Then it was time to sew the side seams. These were first sewn with the back silk piece and both lining pieces, allowance to the right side. The front silk piece was then folded over and in, and prick-stitched. I actually did the second seam the wrong way first time, including the front silk instead of the back…  So I ripped it out and re-did it. A bit more painful than when the seam is sewn by machine, but if I’m going to do this by hand, I’m going to do it right…

All seams are sewn with grey silk thread (if only because it’s easier to source than linen). Some close-ups of the insides. From left to right: the back seam, side seam, and center-front.

 

Final thing to do was to sew the front strap lining to the bodice. This is what it looks like now. The shoulder strap in silk will be one of the last things, sewn in place after the sleeve is in. I’m currently working on the skirts first though.

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A new petticoat – and a note on red-white chintz

As mentioned in my last post, I wanted more petticoats for my 1780s dress. I know from ladies in more regional dress in the 18th century (which followed fashion quite closely), that they probably wore at least 4 petticoats 1. As I can’t really imagine fashionable ladies wearing fewer, I’d ideally have 4 for my ensemble as well. One plain linen bottom one, underneath the false rump. One simple linen one as first one over the rump, one striped linen or wool one over the rump, and a final, prettier, printed cotton one as top ‘under’ petticoat. The top petticoat was usually the prettiest, as that one might show when lifting up the skirt.

When writing the last post, I had one grey linen petticoat, which I’ll be wearing right on top of the rump. Now, I’ve also added the final, printed cotton petticoat to the list!

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It’s made the same way as my grey linen petticoat, following this tutorial.  Basically, you take a two big rectangles and sew them together on the sides leaving open a slit at the top. You then fold down the top so the hem will even out over a rump (longer in the back), and them the bottom. Then the top is pleated so each side is a little larger than the waist measurement, and you add a waistband and ties. Very simple, and nice for a quick side project, especially if you cheat and sew it by machine as I did.

 

My petticoat is made of cotton, printed with red flowers. If it looks familiar, that might be right, as it’s made from one of the new Ikea duvets.

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In the costuming community, Ikea is known for some fabrics which are based on 18th century textiles. As such, they’re actually reasonably historically accurate, though sometimes colors are slightly off, and not all of them are equally good. Plus side is also that they’re very easy to get a hold of, and often relatively cheap!

This particular line is new, and is a two-color design. The flowers are quite small, and there’s a fair bit of white space which makes it most suitable for later 18th century styles.

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The color way is what makes this a little bit unusual as a chintz reproduction. By far most chintz is multi-colored. Two-tone designs are quite a bit rarer. If there are two colors, it’s either white-black, black-white, white-blue, or white red. The white-black and blue-white combinations were often worn for mourning, especially in regional costume.

Wentke from Hindeloopen for light mourning. Cotton painted in India, 1750-1800.

Wentke (from Hindeloopen) for light mourning, in white and blue. Fries museum

The red-white chintz is often called ‘milk and blood’ in Dutch. You see it most often in the costume of Hindeloopen, where it was used specifically for bridal clothing.

Bridal Wentke from Hindeloopen. Zuiderzeemuseum.

 

Although a bit rarer, you do see ‘fashionable’ dress in white and red as well. This jacket is a very nice example.

 

Jak met lange mouwen in sits met rode bloemenranken (zogenaamd melk en bloed sits); model met maagstuk, ellebooglange mouwen en brede schootpanden die in plooien vastgenaaid zijn; sluit midden voor met koperen haken en ogen; voering in wit linnenHet maagstuk is een beetje uitgelaten bovenaan. Het sits bestaat uit niet op rapport aan elkaar genaaide fragmenten; waarschijnlijk alle van hetzelfde patroon. Het rechtervoorpand bestaat uit 12 stukken; het linker voorpand uit 10 stukken (mogelijk in beide meer stukken in de dichtgenaaide plooien. De rechterschouderpand bestaat uit 2 stukken; de rugpand heeft 7 stukken. In veel fragmenten zijn oude naaisporen die wijzen op herbruik. De voering bestaat uit stukken van verschillende witte linnenweefsels.

MoMu Antwerpen

 

All in all, the fabric is pretty close to historical, and a nice choice for a petticoat which might show on occasion!

Fries museum. Petticoat with red flowers.

Coupon of chintz, blue flowers on white ground, with the VOC (East-Indian Trading company) stamp showing. The VOC first brought Indian chintz to the Netherlands

Chintz from the Fries museum, looking quite similar to the little Ikea flowers!

 

1. [Source: Aangekleed gaat uit, streekkleding en cultuur in Noord-Holland 1750-1900.  M. Havermans-Dikstaal, 1999]

False rump – 1780s

Aside from stays, my 1780s round gown will need some more undergarments. A shift, false rump, and at least two petticoats. I’ve got the grey linen petticoat I wore under my 1660s gown, but the rest still required making.

As of this weekend, however, I now also have a false rump. As this fashion plate shows, skirts grew round later in the century, and could be quite big.

Cabinet des Modes ou les Modes Nouvelles, 1 août 1786, Pl. I, A.B. Duhamel, Buisson, 1786

Rijksmuseum, 1786

 

A shape like this requires a little more help than just petticoats (although those are definitely crucial as well!). Enter: the false bum. Whereas the typical wide silhouette of the 18th century was mostly achieved through hoops, this round shape was probably the result of strategically shaped ‘pillows’.

I haven’t been able to find any existant examples of 18th century false rumps, but there’s a number of descriptions of them. Moreover, we have a couple of delightful satiric prints such as this one:

The Bum Shop, published by S.W.Fores, London, 1785. The British Museum. via 2NHG

This prent is wonderful, as it also gives shapes. The size is very probably ofer the top, but it does show several different types of false rumps.

For my 1780’s dress, I wanted what is termed a ‘split rump’, so one with a bit of a ‘gap’ in the middle. This gap allows the typical low back point of the 1780’s fitted back dresses to lie nicely against the body.

1776 dress with low point in the back, MET museum

 

I know of this type of false rump thanks to the American Duchess guide to 18th century dress making (book), which includes the pattern for one in their chapter on the Italian gown. However, in their version the two ‘cushions’ lie rather far apart, allowing the skirt to ‘dip’ between them a relatively far down. I wanted my split rump to be just a little more subtle, which is purely a case of personal preference.

So I took inspiration from the satirical prent above, and slightly adapted the AD pattern to be a bit more ’round’, so the edges touch more. The split rumps at the top row on the satirical plate were the shape I was going for. I kept the ‘skirt’ beneath the cushions as in the AD book, and also followed their instructions for making it up (I sewed it by machine though, and filled it with modern stuffing). I also made sure that though I changed the shape and size of the cushions, the total hip circumference is the same as adviced, which was 2x the waist measurement.

My pattern is both a bit longer, and wider than the original. To make sure the shape wouldn’t become too big, I made two stitching lines in each pillow, limiting how much stuffing could go in.

Before stuffing:

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And the finished thing! As you can see, there’s a small gap between the pillows, but it is quite subtle.

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One side:

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And what it looks like with a petticoat on top! I’ll want at least one more, and then the dress will go over as well. This will round it off a bit more.

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And what it looks like from the side and front!

 

Medieval accessories

When planning my late 15th century burgundian gown, the plan was always to make a ridiculously large henin to go with it. After all, the crazy hats are one of the most fun parts of late medieval fashion.

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.

I wanted something like this. I really love the floating veils. Although probably unpractical, they’re such an eye catcher. The tall henins are generally called ‘steeple henins’, and they are always worn with a veil. The veil can either just be lain on top, extending from the back, or suspended as in these pictures. These are called ‘butterfly veils’.

Chamado de Adorno borboleta

 

However, as I had an event to wear my burgundian dress to about a week after I finished it, the first hat I made was a bit more practical. I didn’t really have time to figure out how to keep the veils in place, nor to hem all that fabric for the veil, so I made a simpler, shorter henin.

It’s always good to have a more practical option at hand anyway, plus it looks adorable on my bear.

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However, I did still really want the crazy tall hat. So I’ve finally made that one.

The base is the same as the shorter henin, just lengthened, and taken from the book ‘the Medieval Tailor’s assistant’. It’s about 40cm tall, taken from a shape which would be about 50cm tall if made into a full point. I made it open up top though, so the wires would have something to come out off.

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The base is buckram, as for the other henin. Not very historically accurate, but easiest for now. From what I’ve read, the originals might’ve been woven baskets, but as I can’t weave basked reed I’m cheating.

The base is covered nearly the same as the short henin as well. Black cotton inside (because it’s easiest, though not period), silk taffeta on the outside, and a black velvet band on the inside bottom to make it grip with the velvet fillet. One change was an extra layer of black cotton between the silk and buckram, as the texture of the buckram shows through the thin silk a bit in the original. The other was that I added a round bit of millinery wire to the bottom of the cone this time, to help it keep shape a bit better.

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The cone was hand-sewn into shape. And then it was time for the wires! This was the part I’d been dreading most. Although the book advises to take 2 wires and extend those from the tip of the henin, I took a slightly different approach. This was done mostly to try to stabilize the wires as much as possible, and stop them from swinging around. Instead of taking 2 separate wires, I took one very long piece to make the shape. This means they’re connected to each other at the bottom, and makes it a lot harder for the tips to swing sideways. The other change was to make them extend quite far into the henin itself, instead of attaching them at the very tip, again for stability.

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The right shape, but they moved around way too much, even without veil.

 

Nevertheless, my first attempt was rather wobbly. The shape was okay, but in retrospect my wire was way to thin. I could’ve known, as the book advices to use 2mm wire. When I actually took that advice for the second version (2mm fencing wire was what I used), it was way better and much more stable.

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Much better. This is the final shape, before going into the henin.

 

The wires were sewn into the henin. At the bottom, the horizontal piece keeps the wire from slipping down. At the top they come a bit closer together to fit through the hole, here they are attached again. I also stitched between them, to keep the wires from pulling the top of the henin into a wider shape.

 

With the wires done, it was time for veils! I ended up using silk organza, my veil is 2m by 75cm. One edge was the selvage, the other parts were hemmed by hand to get a very narrow finish.

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The veil is pinned to the henin middle front and back. Additionally, I pinned the veil to itself after the vertical parts of the wires. This keeps it from slipping forward, and keeps the parts at the sides hanging back from the face.

 

It’s very pretty all put together, the veil definitely makes all the difference!

 

The whole construction stays on my head in several ways. First, it’s worn over a velvet fillet. This one I made for the earlier henin, and it’s cut on the bias so it can be stretched a bit and tied securely. Secondly, the velvet band on the inside of the henin creates extra grip on the fillet, keeping it from sliding. Finally, the hair is put into a high bun. My hair is quite long, so I have a substantial bun which supports the henin. All in all, it feels pretty sturdy and I can move easily without feeling like it’s going to slide off.

 

In addition to the shorter henin, I also cheated on the belt the first time, and wore a elastic one from H&M. It was a fantasy event anyway, so probably not many people noticed, but I did go on a scout for a better one.

On that same event, I found a stall from Pera Peris, a German company who do reproductions of medieval buckles, jewelry, etc. They even had the perfect buckle and matching belt end, just not with them at the time, so I ordered it online eventually.

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It’s based on this portrait by Rogier van der Weyden, and perfect in style.

Ritratto di giovane donna (Rogier van der Weyden) - Wikipedia

 

The buckle is 5,5cm wide and made for fabric belts, and I made mine out of black velvet, same as the collar of my dress. Although I like the brightly colored contrast belts as well, given that my dress is bright orange, I figured that’d be bold enough. The belt end is actually on the other side of the fabric than the buckle, as it flips over when closed. (As you see in the van der Weyden portrait as well).

 

I also made it a longer than in the portrait above, as it’s more flexible in length this way. You do see longer belts, interestingly enough they often seem to close in the back! That’s why you often don’t actually see buckles on the belts of burgundian gowns, they’re hidden behind the person. The belts tied in the back also seem longer than those left in front.

Regnault de Montauban, rédaction en prose. Regnault de Montauban, tome 1er Date d'édition : 1451-1500 Ms-5072 réserve Folio 385v

« L'istoire de Jason extraite de pluseurs livres et presentée a noble et redouté prince Phelipe, par la grace de Dieu duc de Bourgoingne et de Brabant », par Raoul Le Fèvre Auteur : Raoul Le Fèvre. Auteur du texte Date d'édition : 1401-1500

 

So now I finally have the outfit fully complete! I hope to wear it next weekend (if it stays dry, fingers crossed), some pictures of the full outfil will follow after.

Edit: A first picture of the complete outfit! See my facebook or instagram for a small video as well, as the veil moves beautifully!

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Green skirts

I haven’t been sewing too much in the last weeks. With my stays finished, I have new things I want to start, yet the beginning of a project always takes a bit more energy. Pattern drafting especially is not something I feel like doing after work, while hand-sewing is perfect. That means projects get finished if I’m busy, but they don’t get started.

Anyway, I did visit a fabric market last Friday, and bought fabric for 2 new unplanned skirts. Skirts are my go-to project when I want to make something quick yet rewarding. I don’t have to think about them too much and they’re done within a couple of hours, yet I do get quite some wear out of them. So perfect for when I’m in a bit of a sewing lull.

Plus, they’re both green, which fits perfectly as I finished both yesterday, on St. Patrick’s day!

The first is made of a (non-wool) green/blue plaid fabric. I have 2 skirts in a similar type fabric (different colors), and wear them a lot, so this is a good addition.

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I made a circle out of this one, as it drapes quite nicely.

 

The other fabric is a wool mix (about 60% I believe), and a gorgeous light green. It’s not a flat color either, but has wonderful richness in tone.

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I had a 1,20 by 1,50 piece (remnant), so decided to make a gathered skirt as a circle would be a bit short. Cutting it in half gave me 2 75cm/150cm pieces, and tacked together it became 75×300. I cut the waistband from the side, leaving me with about 4 times my waist measurement (280cm). I pleated it up in stacked box pleats, overlapping them slightly in some places to use up all the width. (I finished these second, when the light was gone, hence the grainier pictures).

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Both skirts have a waistband and zipper. The green wool I hemmed by hand for a nice clean finish.

 

Next weekend I have some more time, so hopefully that’ll get me back to the historical projects I want to start!

Late 18th century stays

I finished my first piece for an 18th century wardrobe last weekend. Green linen front-lacing stays.

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This also means I finally have some sewing which fits in with the Historical Sew Monthly again, as the theme for Febuary is Under! So the stats:

The Challenge: Under
Material: Green & plain colored linen, leather chamois for binding
Pattern: American Duchess Simplicity front-lacing stays
Year: (the year the item represents, not the year you made it) ca. 1780s
Notions: Synthethic whalebone boning & twill tape
How historically accurate is it? Reasonably. Materials are pretty close, synthethic whalebone is obviously synthethic, but close to whalebone in behavior. The boning channels were stitched by machine, as were the seams between panels. Everything else was hand-sewn.
Hours to complete: I’m very bad at keeping track…
First worn: Today, for pictures
Total cost: Most of the materials were already in stash, so no clue…

The story & construction:

Somewhere last year I got the Simplicity patterns from their first collaboration with American Duchess. Not for any specific project, but they were on sale at that time and I figured they might come in handy at some point.

Simplicity Pattern 8162 Misses' 18th Century Undergarments

I particularly liked that they included front-lacing stays, which is convenient when one needs to dress oneself. After I made my green medieval kirtle, I had some green linen left, and decided green stays would be a nice plan.

They’re rarer than some other colors, but they definitely do exist. The only disadvantage of my green linen is that it does stain a bit, so the inside of my future 18th century clothes might turn somewhat green. I’m not too bothered by that to be honest, the outside will be fine anyway.

 

Corset Date: ca. 1780 Culture: American Medium: wool, leather, linen, reeds Dimensions: Length at CF: 14 1/4 in. (36.2 cm) Credit Line: Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of the Brooklyn Museum, 2009; Gift of E. A. Meister, 1950 Accession Number: 2009.300.3100a, b

Ca. 1780 green wool stays, from the MET

 

I did the mock-up and main construction of my stays somewhere last year before the summer. They then got put on hold a bit, as I had absolutely no plans for an 18th century outfit yet, and I did have other stuff I wanted to make and also wear first.

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Planning out the boning channels

 

After the summer, I very briefly picked up the project again to do some embroidery. I was inspired by a couple of different stays which have some ‘swirly’-type embroidery on them, which I thought was very interesting. I have no idea how common this embroidery actually was, or if it was a regional thing (northern European?), but I decided to go with it.

My main inspirations were this pair for the ‘waves’:

Cotton corset (with wood  boning) 1780s–90s, European - in the Metropolitan Museum of Art costume collections. (Would be relatively easy to take a pattern from this photo!)

European, 1780s–90s, MET museum

And this one for the little ‘leafs’ on the back:

Stays - norway Fun embroidery in the back

Norwegian, from the Glomdalsmuseet

 

My interpretation:

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Swirlies on the front, leaf style in the back, both between the boning channels

 

After the embroidery, the project got put on hold again, this time for the 1660s and 1880s ensembles. Beginning of this year, after I finished my 17th century shift, it was finally time to go back to them!

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I used German synthetic whalebone.

 

I sewed in facings for the eyelets, and then the eyelets themselves. After that I covered the seams with narrow tape.

 

At this point, it was time for binding! I used leather chamois (from the local supermarket), which worked really well! A thimble was definitely good to have, but no pliers necessary and the chamois curved and stretched nicely.

 

 

 

The final step was lining the whole thing. I’m often a bit too lazy to pretty up the insides, but I hope this will increase their longevity!

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For straps, I decided to take inspiration from the new American Duchess stays pattern. It uses twill tape straps, which cross in the back and attach to hooks in the front, inspired by this original:

Stays, 1785-90, M969X.26

1785-1790. (c) McCord Museum. (And look: more twirlies!)

 

This method held appeal for several reasons. It helps you hold your shoulders back, which I can use some help with. It also gives a relatively narrow strap which lies wide on the shoulder (to the outside), good for not poking out under necklines, and it’s very easily adjustable.

I tea-dyed the tapes first, as they were bright white at first. Left original, right dyed version.

 

This is what they look like completed!

 

Some details

 

The only disadvantage of the straps is that they partly cover up the back embroidery. Ah well.

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To finish up, some more pictures of the stays on me!

In retrospect, they are just a little short on me. I didn’t make a boned mock-up, so that’s entirely my own fault. I did learn later this pattern runs a little short in general (too late, obviously), so if you’re also working on it that’s good to double check.

All in all, I’m not too bothered by it, as the shift keeps stuff in place well enough in my case.

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Pattern weights

Last September I visited Scotland, in particular the islands of Mull and Skye. Of course, Scotland is renowned for it’s wool, so when I saw a sign ‘Wool mill’ along the road on Mull, I followed it. Around the corner, along the road, down another turn, way down the road again, but eventually I did indeed find the Ardalanish wool mill.

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Pretty Mull

 

There were two main buildings to visit, one where the weaving happened and one with the shop. I first spend quite some time with the lady working on fabrics. She was checking one of the wool pieces for snapped threads, which were than woven back in by hand. They had tree old weaving looms in the space, and she told me a lot about their process, which was very interesting. This mill is on an estate, using the wool from their own sheep, as well as other wool from the island. They do most of the process in-house (all except spinning I believe), including any dyeing, which is done with home-grown natural dyes.

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I didn’t take any pictures of the mill, so some more pictures of sheep instead. As many Scottish islands, Mull has a lot of sheep.

 

Of course, after that I also had a good browse through their little shop. Aside from the fabrics, they also sold wool yarn and loads of little and bigger things made from their products. Scarfs, blankets, mitts, etc. In the end though, I bought a little package of fabric scraps. These were left-over from the things that ended up in the shop, and this allowed me to buy a range of little fabric scraps from different tweeds.

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I kept them in my closet for a while, but last week I stumbled along a tutorial for pattern weights, and thought this would be a perfect use for them! Something you actually use, for which you need only a very small amount of fabric.

There are loads of tutorials for pattern weights, I followed this one.

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I had to piece some scraps to get them in the right shapes, but that worked out fine. I also kept some of the selvedge markings, as I thought that added a nice touch about the origin of the fabric (and some scraps would’ve been to small without). Two weights are also a little smaller than the others due to fabric size, which works out okay for smaller pattern pieces.

After that, the process was quite simple. I filled mine with rice, and then sewed shut the final opening by hand.

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And then they were done! I’m really happy with my new pattern weights, the fabrics are so beautiful, and they work very well together as a set.

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17th century shift

Although I finished my 1660s gown nicely on time in 2017, the outfit wasnt’t quite complete yet. Most importantly, I still needed a shift!

In many 1660’s portraits, you see large white ‘under’ sleeves beneath the bodice sleeves, which are (I suspect) usually the sleeves of the shift. Additionally, you often get a bit of white fabric above the neckline of the bodice. Again, probably usually the shift.

Although you see many different styles, both in neckline and undersleeve, this was the look I was going for.

Caspar Netscher The lady at the window (1666, Heydt Museum Wuppertal)

Caspar Netscher The lady at the window (1666, Heydt Museum Wuppertal)

 

So a large pouf with a ruffle beneath the sleeve, and a thin white band above the neckline.

Just in comparison, some of the other styles I found.

Many Dutch portraits show the more ‘modest’ (protestant?) look with narrow sleeve cuffs and/or a large lace collar. I might try my hand at these as well some time, but for the ball I wanted a more ‘evening’ look.

Portret van een jonge vrouw, Isaack Luttichuys, 1656 - Rijksmuseum

Portret van een jonge vrouw, Isaack Luttichuys, 1656 – Rijksmuseum

 

You also sometimes see a clear ruffle above the neckline, instead of just a narrow band.

c. 1668 Elizabeth Wriothesley, Countess of Northumberland, later Countess of Montagu (1646-90) by Peter Lely

c. 1668 Elizabeth Wriothesley, Countess of Northumberland, later Countess of Montagu (1646-90) by Peter Lely

 

Additionally, some sleeves seem to be gathered up and pinned, instead of having the ‘pouf’. You also see some sheer fabric in the necklines, which is different from the sleeves. I suspect these are separate and draped on top, although I’m by no means an expert.

Diary of a Mantua Maker: 1670s Gown

Margaretha Van Raephorst by Johannes Mijtens, 1668

 

Basically the main conjecture for shifts seems to be: gathered neckline, with or without extra ruffle, and long wide sleeves, either pinned up or gathered into a pouf. The portraits showing ladies in their underwear seem to confirm this.

Two portraits of Nell Gwyn. The first shows the gathered strip at the neckline.

Nell Gwyn, was a long-time mistress of King Charles II of England. Called "pretty, witty Nell" by Samuel Pepys, she has been regarded as a living embodiment of the spirit of Restoration England and has come to be considered a folk heroine, with a story echoing the rags-to-royalty tale of Cinderella.

Portrait of Nell Gwyn.
Painting by Sir Peter Lely

 

This second one is just gathered at the top.

Nell Gwyn (v 1680) by Simon Verelst (1644-1721)

Nell Gwyn (v 1680) by Simon Verelst (1644-1721)

 

In the end, I chose to base my shift on the one made by Before the Automobile. I liked her method of seamless gores, and it ticked also the boxes of having a pouf sleeve (although I made mine slightly longer) and a band at the neckline.

I sort-of measured the neckline to get the width of the finished shift, and cut my pieces about 2x as wide to allow for gathering. The shift is about 1m long from the neckline down. The eventual pattern pieces about these sizes: Front: 75 wide, 100cm long. Back: 75 wide, 105cm long, Sleeves: 60 wide, 50 long, Gussets: 13×13, Gores: 70 wide at the bottom, length to fit with front & back.

Before any gathering. The back is slightly higher than the front.

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I sewed most of the shift by machine as I wanted to finish it in a day. I might go back and hand-finish the seams from the inside.

The sleeves were hemmed with a small hand-sewn hem-stitch though, as these will show underneath the dress. (I need to iron them I see…)

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Some more pictures (apologies for the grainy quality, I won’t have any opportunities to take pictures with daylight for 2 weeks, so it was dark when I took these).

The gathering on the neckline and sleeve.

 

Left is the view from under the arm, from the side. The gusset is inserted into the gore, which is cut open, and then attached to the sleeve. And left is the finished shift!

 

 

2017 in review

A new year means time to look back to what I’ve done last year!

I had some concrete plans, and some more tentative ideas. The concrete plans were for the first half of the year. These were: a balayeuse for the 1870’s gown, a day bodice for said gown, a bodice & overskirt for the 1870’s dress of a friend, finish the red fancy spencer, and a 1940s floral dress.

Of those, only the floral dress hasn’t been done, so pretty good in total!

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The balayeuse

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1870’s day/dinner bodice

 

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A bodice, belt and overskirt for Marije

 

A very fancy spencer

 

The tentative plans were: a red 18th century cloak, a brocade burgundian gown and steeple henin, a satin 1660’s dress and a black-white 1870’s dress.

Of these, the burgundian got made but the henin was simplified into a flowerpot style. The 1660’s happened, but in a much fancier fabric and with a different design than I was first thinking of.

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A damask burgundian gown.

 

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The 1660’s gown. This became a much larger project, as I wanted to do the fancier fabric and trim justice.

 

And, of course, I also made some things which weren’t on the list. In addition to the 1870s day bodice, I also made a hat and chemisette. The burgundian gown actually started with a linen smock, and then kirtle, which I hadn’t planned at the beginning of the year. Although not the one planned, I did make 2 vintage dresses, one 1940s and one 1930s. I also made a full 1880’s winter ensemble, and a corset to match.

 

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Chemisette for the 1870’s dress. I also made a hat and bag.

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A medieval smock

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An medieval kirtle and veil

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An 1940’s dress inspired by my grandmother.

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An 1930’s dress from an original pattern.

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An 1880s corset

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An 1880’s winter ensemble, underskirt, overskirt, bodice, hat and muff.

 

All in all, a pretty productive year! I also visited a number of fashion exhibitions, which was really great. And I went to Bath for the Victorian ball. Stay tuned for some tentative plans for next year!

1660’s skirt & full ensemble pictures

The skirt for the 1660’s dress was quite a bit simpler to make than the bodice. The skirts of this period are basically rectangles pleated to fit a waistband, so no tricky patterning there. The main question was: how wide should my hem be?

I looked at some other costumers for information, as the book I based the bodice on didn’t have a matching skirt in it. Some very helpful blog posts were by the Dreamstress, Before the Automobile and Demode. From their research I found that skirts are typically between 115″ and 150″ wide, so between 2,9m and 3,8m. My problem now was that I wanted to use full widths of my fabric, and have a very full skirt. With 1,5m wide fabric, that meant choosing between a 3m or 4,5m wide hem. The 3m would probably be more historically accurate, but with my very fancy gold fabric, I didn’t want to have a relatively narrow skirt. So in the end, I went with a 4,5m wide hem. A little wide, but the fabric is quite lightweight for the period, so it doesn’t look too much to my eye.

After sewing the 3 skirt panels together, leaving a slit center back, it was time for pleating. There’s some debate on whether skirts of this period are cartridge pleated, or knife pleated. I believe the main consensus is that they’re probably very wide cartridge pleats, folded to one side so they look like knife pleats. The extra threads of the cartridge pleating hold them in place though.

I opted for slightly narrower pleats, mostly because I had to fit 4,5m to my waistband, which was quite a lot. The cartridge stitches are 1cm wide, and I made 4 rows to about 10cm deep. I cheated slightly on the markings, and omitted those. Instead, I marked my finger and then stitched the next rows in the same place by eye. Not quite as neat as marking, but a lot less work.

Black marks the width, red the height for the first row.

 

Pulling the pleats in is one of the fun bits!

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I first bound the inside of the pleats to a piece of linen tape, to hold them in place. After that the waistband was stitched on, pushing the pleats to lie (somewhat) flat towards the back.

The inside, with tape to keep the pleats in place (left), and stitching the waistband on (right)

 

The hem was faced with grey linen I had in my stash.

I have one little pieced bit of hem on my skirt, underneath the lace. This was a measuring mistake on my part, where I thought I could cut more than I could in reality. I started with two coupons of 3m of fabric, and with piecing I could leave myself with one piece of about 2m, instead of two pieces of 1m. So I chose to mend the little ‘gap’, and as it’s underneath the lace, it barely shows.

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The top part of the lace in this picture will be the hem, so all of the piecing is covered in the end.

 

All the lace was stitched on first, and then the hem facing and waistband were added. The stitching only shows on the inside where there’s a single layer of fabric. I used the same netting as for the bodice, and the scalloped trim I also put on the sleeves. The other (prettier) scalloping I used on the bodice I only had a little off, so barely enough for the bodice alone. But despite the different laces, I think it works pretty well!

There are 6 ties on the inside. 2 are actually near the front, on the sides of the ‘flat’ piece. This is the only part of the skirt to go under the bodice, and in this way you can tie that part in place, then put on the bodice, and afterwards tie the rest of the skirt. I got the idea from Demode’s blog, who in turn looked at these pictures of the Bath dress, taken by Cathy Hay. (This is why I love the online community). The other 4 ties are in the back, I made 4 so the back might overlap a bit (difficult with 2 ties center back).

Above: putting the front ties on, below is a look from the inside of the skirt.

 

I also made a bum roll to go underneath, and a grey linen petticoat, following this great tutorial. The grey linen was originally intended for something medieval, but no concrete plans. So I used most for the petticoat, and the rest to bind the hem of the skirt. Stashbusting!

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The bum roll, it’s almost a croissant!

 

The skirt finishes off the look! So some pictures of the whole dress, only lacking a chemise now.

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More pictures!

And some details