1860’s Balgown – photos

I finished the ballgown bodice for my black velvet 1860’s dress quite a while back. I’d hoped to wear it to an event back in April, but it was rainy and too cold, so that didn’t happen. Luckily, I had another event last weekend and this time the weather was perfect! So I finally have some photo’s of the new bodice on me, together with the new hoop and petticoat I made.

The whole outfit:

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A close-up

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And some better pictures of the bodice!

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White cotton – Underwear

I had a productive weekend, and made 2 new (under) garments. One is a new petticoat for over my 1860’s hoop, the other an Edwardian shift.

I started with the petticoat. My old one was quite heavy and seemed to do some weird things with my hoop dimensions, compressing it. As it was also not very period correct, being made of black polyester, I decided to make a new one. The new one isn’t quite as full, as I only had 3 meters of fabric, but it should do the job.

It consists of 2 rectangles, the first gathered to the waistband and the second gathered to the first. I started with the first rectangle, and put it on my hoop to measure for length.

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I then drew a line along the 2nd full hoop (so not the half-circle ones). I sewed the bottom strip along this line, and actually ended up with a petticoat which is pretty even along the hem! It’s just a bit short, due to lack of fabric, but with a velvet over-skirt (which is quite heavy), that shouldn’t be a problem. If I’ll ever make a new skirt for over this hoop with less volume, I might need to make another petticoat as well though.

 

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The second thing I made was an Edwardian shift. I used the Truly Victorian Edwardian underwear pattern (top left is the shift):

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I ended up skipping the lace along the arm holes, and just made a small seam there. It has lace along the neckline, and 4 pin-tucks in the front and 2 in the back. I pieced the back, because I was using left-over fabric and couldn’t fit the whole thing without a seam. I quite like it, there’s just something about white cotton, lacy underwear.

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Front

 

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Front-detail

 

 

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Back

 

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Back detail

 

1860’s Ballgown bodice

My 1860’s ballgown bodice is done! Over a year after first drafting the pattern, but it was always meant to be a long-term thing. I drafted the pattern back when making the dinner bodice, just as a try out. I then cut the fabric a little while later, because I also wanted to make my Irish dance dress out of the same velvet. Luckily, I had enough!  The construction was started a couple of months ago. I’m afraid I didn’t take a lot of progress pictures…

This was the drafting stage

The front. Don't mind the ugly left part, that was just for fitting and I didn't have enough fabric.

The front. Don’t mind the ugly left part, that was just for fitting and I didn’t have enough fabric.

And here I’m planning the lace trimming. I looked at a lot of extant ballgowns, and most actually have more complicated trimming. I really liked the lace though, and even though you see this more on 1850’s bodices, I decided to go with 2 rows of lace. It could be a re-fashioned bodice, right?

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Planning the trimming. I decided I liked the lace sleeve best.

 

The bodice is made with a point in front, just in case I ever want to wear it over my skirt. I have a belt for the skirt with a big bow though, and I love the bow, so I’ll probably tuck the bodice into the skirt. So, now onto the photo’s of the finished thing! (The lace is nearer in color to the velvet in real life. The lace reflects much more light, and these photos were taken with a flash because it was dark, so it show up a little lighter).

Front:

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And the back:

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You’ll have to forgive my dress form for not filling up the bodice completely, it’s just a bit smaller than me in the waist. Wrinkles should be a lot less on me! (photo’s with the dress on me will follow soon hopefully)

The trim is 2 rows of lace on the neckline and 1 on the sleeves.

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2 rows of lace on the neckline and 1 around the sleeves

 

The back has little hand-sown eyelets (20 of them… why do I keep doing stuff like this?) and laces closed. They’re not extremely even and round, but overall I’m happy with them.

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Eyelets. There’s 2 more at the top (between the layers of lace) and 2 more at the bottom

 

And with the skirt! (and new 1860’s hoop!)

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Hoop skirt finished

It’s done! My new elliptical 1860’s hoop skirt. Some info:

Pattern: Truly Victorian 103

Fabric: White cotton

Notions: Loads of bias-tape for the bone casing, white tapes for the vertical support, 11mm steel hoop boning, 8 end-caps for the half-circle hoops and heat shrink to clasp the bones together.

The hoop is not entirely even, but close enough that it doesn’t matter with a petticoat over it. It is also similar enough to my previous hoop skirt to still fit with the petticoat and skirt I made before. It feels a lot sturdier than my previous hoop, and I’m very happy with it. I’m making my previous elliptical hoop into a 1850’s round hoop, but progress on that will follow later.

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The side view. Here it’s still knotted together at the waist, but by this point I’ve a clasp in place to reduce the bulk a bit. The tapes holding the half-hoops together behind the bum and legs also don’t work quite as well on the mannequin as on me, as it doesn’t have legs. The ‘gap’ between hoop four and five isn’t as obvious when I’m wearing it.

 

 

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A close-up of the half-wiring at the back.

 

 

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Another perspective.

 

 

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And the back view.

 

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With petticoat and skirt. The skirt is slightly long on the sides, but I’m confident that will be less when I wear it, as the mannequin was rather low and the hoop stands out a bit more towards the back on me.

 

 

 

Hoop skirt

This december I started on a new eliptical crinoline cage. My older one was made mostly out of plastic piping and ducttape, and while the piping was sturdy enough, it kept falling apart. As result, I’ve only worn in twice and was constantly worrying how it would keep. Not very pleasant, so I decided to make a new one, do it properly and with steel boning. So I ordered the pattern from Truly Victorian, the boning and loads of ribbon. Here some progress pictures. Good quality will follow when it’s done!

 

Making the bag:

 

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I couldn’t find proper bone-casing, so I chose to use 3 cm bias tape and folded it in half and stitched it together. This worked fine, although it was narrow for the 11 mm boning. Took a lot of stitching though, as it was 14 meters.

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I started with pinning everything together to check the length and even-ness. This is what it looked like before boning. A bit sad still.

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That’s better! With all the bones inserted and everything pined together.

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And with the ribbons between the half-circle hoops. This is what makes it stand out. Starting to look like a proper cage skirt.

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At this point, it looked finished, but everything was still just pinned in place. I shifted some of the hoops slightly, and then started hand-sewing all the ribbons to the hoops. Suffice, to say, this took some time.

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To attach the hoops in the front together, I was advised to use heat shrink with glue. I’d never heard of this, but it’s shrinkable plastic piping generally used to attach electric wiring together. It worked quite well, and is very sturdy! This is what it looked like before closing the bias tape over it.

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Almost done! So when it’s finished I’ll make some proper pictures to show.

1860s Dress finished

My 1860s dress is finished! It still feels a bit weird, I’ve been working on this since June last year so it’s been a long project, but completely worth it as I still get giddy every time I see the finished thing. Because I’ve already shown the bodice, here’s a photo which shows off the skirt:

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Some information:

Fabric: Black velvet for the dress, belt and bodice, black cotton for the lining. Only the underside of the skirt and the bodice were lined.

Patterns: TV400 for the bodice, the 1866-7 Day dress pattern from Janet Arnold for the skirt. The belt was made without pattern.

Foundation: This project started with a corset, hoopskirt and petticoat. 

Originally I didn’t want to make a train for practical reasons, but when I was hemming the skirt I loved the little train it had so much that I kept it. Instead, I sewed some small ribbons to the inside of the skirt so I could tie it up inside and make the train disappear. I’m planning of wearing it to an event where they have a lot of gravel and dirt paths, and I didn’t want to kill the skirt on the first outing. I have no clue if this is historically accurate, but it looks pretty good.

Some more pictures. The first one is the dress which inspired the entire project, from the met museum:

And the side/back of the inspiration

And some more photos of the finished dress. The front:

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The side (with the train tied up)

 

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The back : (train tied up)

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And some details:

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Sewing – 1860’s hoop skirt

This summer I started with my 1860’s dress, and the first thing to make was the hoopskirt. The idea of this hoopskirt was mostly ‘as cheap and easy as possible as long as the silhouette works’. I didn’t use a pattern, but was strongly inspired by the Truly Victorian 103 pattern and used a photo for reference. Because boning is quite expensive and I needed so much, I decided to look for cheaper options. I was inspired by the Dreamstress’ tutorial of an 1850s hoopskirt made with piping. I couldn’t find the exact same material, but the stuff I got was close enough. I’t not very pretty, but it was cheap and nobody is going to see it anyway when wearing a petticoat and skirt over it. Making the hoopskirt was a lot more challenging than I’d expected, and next time I might invest in a pattern, but I think I managed quite well. Lets just say that it took a lot of pinning the hoops up, and down, and left, and right, and back again, to finally reach the shape I was looking for. Some of the tapes still look a bit crooked, but the silhouette is right, which is the most important thing. I ended up not using any fabric at the bottom, as the lowest hoop is high enough for me to not step on it. I attached the hoops to the tape with duct-tape, simply because I couldn’t sew through the pipe and this was the easiest way.

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1860 – Dress progress

In the past weekends, I’ve been working on my 1860’s dress. I’ve cut the skirt fabric, sewn the pieces together, made the pleats and the waistband and decided I do want a short train after all. I only need to sew the hem and the skirt will be finished. I didn’t take too many pictures, as I mostly sew in the evening and photographing black velvet with little light doesn’t work, but here’s a picture of my living room when I was cutting the fabric:

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Aside from the skirt, I also finally finished the petticoat. I still needed to hem it, so it’s done. No pictures, unfortunately.

Last night, I was looking at 1860’s ball gowns and made the decision to also make a ball-gown bodice. Many existent dresses have both a day and an evening bodice for one skirt. I still have enough fabric left to make an evening bodice, and if I do it I’ll need to work with the same fabric, so I decided to just go for it. I’ll finish the dinner bodice first, but at least I’ll save the fabric.

My next step was looking at patterns for evening bodices, and I decided to try to drape one myself. I used the picture below for the seam-lines and this post by the Dreamstress as guideline: http://thedreamstress.com/2009/07/blah-costuming/

I’m pretty happy with how the experiment went, as it actually fits! This method is so quick, and a lot cheaper than buying a commercial pattern. I only had to make slight alterations to the mock-up, so I think this will work!

The fabric is slightly ripped at the arm-cycle, but no problem for the pattern of course

The fabric is slightly ripped at the arm-cycle, but no problem for the pattern of course

The front. Don't mind the ugly left part, that was just for fitting and I didn't have enough fabric.

The front. Don’t mind the ugly left part, that was just for fitting and I didn’t have enough fabric.

The back.

The back.