A 1890s ladies vest

About a month ago I posted about my vest project, in which I’m making a 1890’s ladies vest from the leftover wool of my split skirt. That post finished with the mock-up done, and the pocket practiced. I had to wait a bit for my lining and back fabric to arrive, but after that I could finally get started on making this. I finished it last week, and wore it for a photoshoot this weekend!

Photographer: Martijn van Huffelen

I started the sewing with the basic construction of the back, which is a single layer of black cotton. This also means that the seams are finished nicely, as this bit won’t have lining. Basically, one edge of the seam allowance gets trimmed away, and the other edge is folded over and in, to hide the raw edge. Then it’s topstitched in place. In this picture I’m ironing it in place.

The fronts were where the main work lay. I interlined my wool to give it just a little bit of extra body. The pocket was made right after. A scary part, but it went well!

Then there was the canvas structure layer, which was pad stitched to the wool/cotton layer, and tailor’s tape was attached in certain areas to avoid it stretching. I totally applied the tape first, and did the pad stitching after, which is not what you’re supposed to do. I’d luckily taken into account the turn of cloth when stitching on the tape, so I was fine. My pad stitching was a little unnecessary, but something I wanted to try out. I do better understand how it works now, so I call that success enough! I also completely forgot to take pictures here, of course. So here’s one after the facing was already in place, but showing a peek at the layers.

The canvas, tailors tape and pad stitching are what help shape the garment. When those were attached, I could stitch the fronts to the back, and do a final fitting to double check the size.

Fitting time, it looks good!

Then, there was attaching the facing (basically the part of the collar that you can see) and then finally the lining. Final step was to attach the buttons and sew the button holes. I debated closing it left over right, instead of the (modern) ‘normal’ for ladies garments right over left. In the end, I left it as on the pattern though. My buttons were ordered, I normally try to pick those out in person but of course shops were closed. I ended up ordering 4 different styles just to be able to check the color and size. Hopefully I’ll be able to use the other buttons some time in the future!

Last weekend I got dressed up, as I had a photoshoot! The photographer I usually collaborate with contacted me, as we’re still allowed to meet 1 on 1 outside, so with the current measures such small shoots are pretty much the only costumy thing we can do. I wore the vest with my 1890s sports blouse, the split skirt, American Duchess Balmoral boots and an antique boater I bought this summer. I added a watch with a chain to the pocket. I really loved wearing this outfit, it makes you feel a little like a late 19th century explorer :).

I already got some pictures, which are really lovely. Thanks to Martijn van Huffelen for these:

A last-minute bodice

I had predicted that this would be a year of more sudden changes in plans than normal, and so far that’s proving to be true. I’m still waiting on the fabric for my vest to arrive, and in the meantime I decided to make a day bodice to wear with my green 1890s skirt.

I’m participating as an extra in a Dutch show about history, and I was asked to wear my green ballgown with a cloak on top of it for an outside scene. I suspect they just chose that outfit because they wanted darker colors, but a ballgown in the middle of the day is a bit odd. It would be covered by a cloak, so in theory invisible, but then the weather turned, and the prediction for filming day was -2 degrees. Not the best weather to have bare arms.

I didn’t have any plans in the weekend before (because, you know, covid), so I decided I might as well try my hand at making a new bodice. I still had plenty of green and black silk left, so this could be done entirely from my stash. The bodice will have long sleeves, which I could even wear extra layers underneath as well. I had 3 full days for this, as well as a couple of evenings after work, so I wanted a design that wouldn’t take a lot of figuring out or trimming. In the end, I settled on this dress as inspiration:

It’s interesting without being overly complex, and as a bonus, the Victorian Dressmaker book actually has a pattern for this. Not to my size, but with the Truly Victorian pattern I’d used for my ballgown bodice as base and the rough shapes in the book, adapting became a lot easier. I still have some black velvet from my 1860s gown, so the velvet details were covered as well.

So I set to work! I didn’t make a lot of pictures, but after day 1 I had the main bodice drafted, cut out, sewn together and fitted! This seems like the most work, but as it’s nearly all machine work, it actually comes together relatively quickly. It also helped that I skipped the mock-up. I’d used this pattern for my ball gown, so I knew it fit, and pinning the darts on the body allows for last-minute adjustments.

Day 2 was for the sleeves. These are fairly complex because they have 7 pieces of fabric each. An organza, dupioni and cotton layer for the inner sleeves, and an organza, dupioni, tarlatan and cotton layer for the outer sleeve. The outer sleeve lining was fitted (with slight gathers) to the armhole first, then the tarlatan was pleated and pinned in (this is just a small strip, meant to give volume), and then the large fashion layer with dupioni and organza was pleated down to fit the smaller lining. Then the inner and outer sleeve were sewn together, and the whole thing was set in by hand, as wrangling layers is just easier that way.

Day 3 was spent on finishing the edges. This dress has a collar and belt of pleated velvet. I pleated them and stitched down the pleats by hand to make them invisible. Then they were both lined in cotton, stitched on along the velvet edge, and then the cotton layer was hand-sewn in place to finish it off. The sleeves I bound in bias tape, finished by hand.

That was the end of my weekend, and it was nearly there! The main thing left was closures, as that’s really essential to wearing, this was done in evenings. It closes with a combination of hooks and eyes, hooks and bars and snaps.

Final touches were a big velvet bow on the back collar, and a smaller one on the belt to hide the closure. I also decided to add a strip of black velvet ribbon along the sleeves.

All in all, I’m pretty happy I got this done within a week, and I can now wear my green outfit for day events as well as balls!

First steps towards an 1890s vest – practicing pockets

After finishing my split cycling drawers, I had quite a bit of wool left over. So I figured that I could actually make a shirt and vest to go with it, for a slightly more summery version of the outfit (as opposed to a heavy sweater). I made the blouse last summer, and now finally got started on the vest!

I’m using the 1890s vest pattern from Black Snail patterns.

Edwardian Ladies Vests 1890 Sewing Pattern 0220 Size US 8-30 image 0

It’s made to go over a corset, and has a beautiful line. I went for the double breasted view (B), with a small pocket for a watch. This pattern covers a number of tailoring techniques, and welt pockets, which were all new for me.

I started with a mock-up, and actually found I had too much room in the upper chest area.

I took out a bit of room there by basically putting a dart in the pattern. This slightly rotates the angle of the shoulder, taking out space where I needed without needing to put a dart in the fabric itself. (Thanks to Foundations Revealed for helping out with this!). Other minor changes were to let it out just a little in the hips, and take it in a tiny bit right under the arm.

The red lines show where the fabric is folded into a dart.

I fitted the pattern both with and without a corset. My plan is to make it fit just right without a corset on, and then when wearing a corset to use the little straps at the back to pull it in. I won’t wear my corset very tightly anyway as this is more of a sporty outfit, and this way I have the option to wear it in more history bounding situations as well. I’ll have to see whether I add boning to the vest at some point to keep it smooth without corset underneath. I’ll see how all the layers work together first though, it’s difficult to estimate whether this will be necessary when a single layer of cotton is so different from wool, cotton and interlining together.

After fitting and pattern adaptations, it was time to cut the fabric! I cut the wool and the horsehair interlining, and then discovered that the brown cotton I’d planned to use for the back was nowhere to be found. I thought I had some leftover from lining the split skirt, but apparently not.

So while I’m waiting for new fabric to arrive, I decided to practice the pocket instead. Noelle from Costuming Drama made this vest and shared her process on her YouTube channel, including her iterations of pocket practice. I have a tendency to just dive in with new techniques, but I’m glad I did try it out, as I now actually understand how these pockets work.

I made one version in plain cotton (from scraps, which my iron then decided to bleed on, so forgive the slight stains):

And then a version with my wool:

My main takeaways from practicing were to mark well (a thin chalk pencil is a life saver here), stitch very precise and snip corners all the way. Also, when working with the wool, to perhaps use some fray-check on those snipped corners, as the wool has a tendency to unravel quickly. You need to snip corners all the way to not get any puckering, but there’s a fine line between not cutting enough (puckering) and cutting too much (fraying holes)!

These welt pockets are made in the 19th century way, which is slightly different from the modern method. I believe the main change is that the welt itself is folded inwards and stitched down, rather than out behind the fabric to be secured with the pocket itself. This way is not necessarily easier , and if you want a good tutorial on the modern way, I definitely recommend this video by my friend Nikki, who explains how to do it step by step! (She also includes a bit of the outer fabric beneath the welt, so your pocket fabric doesn’t show, which I’m not using either).

Now these are practiced, the next step is to cut the back, and the flatlining of the front, both of which I need to wait for the new fabric for. Stay tuned for further progress once those arrive!

1890s sports blouse

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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1895 Ball gown – Bodice

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

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

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

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First bodice fitting, pretty good!

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

The rough  inspiration for the bodice

 

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

 

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

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

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Comparing sleeve shapes from TV & Janet Arnold

 

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

 

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

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

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Backing the beaded piece with organza

How the bodice closes:

 

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

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I also took it for a twirl!

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1895 Ball gown – skirt

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Whip stitching the waistband on:

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

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The edge is left raw and turned down.

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This is what it looks like from the outside

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

1895 petticoat/skirt

For my 1895 ballgown, I wanted 3 petticoats. The mid 1890’s silhouette is all about volume in the skirt, so all the floof!

I’m using my old Edwardian petticoat at the bottom to start building volume, and I made a white cotton petticoat from de Gracieuse to start the correct silhouette. For the final petticoat, I wanted two things. Firslty, to make it in some color/pattern, as these were a thing and I already made a fully white petticoat. Secondly, to make it out of the same pattern as the skirt. This is actually a decent way to start to achieve the right silhouette, as it would have the same shape, and would also allow me to test my pattern.

Petticoats 1 and 2:

 

I initially wanted a striped petticoat, but I wasn’t able to find striped cotton in a color/weight which I liked. It’s a lot easier to find cotton in summer than in winter, so alas. But I did stumble on a glazed cotton in a beautiful blue color, so I decided to go for that instead. I didn’t get enough to also make ruffles, as it was a bit heavier and pricier than I’d originally aimed for. Fine for the base skirt, but adding frills would just add a little too much weight.

When I was in Ghent for the new-year’s ball, I found some lovely light blue lace, which I took home to use on this project.

The picture doesn’t really show it, but the lace itself is also light blue, and perfectly translates between the blue of the skirt and white of the ruffles.

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As a pattern, I’d gotten the Truly Victorian Ripple skirt. However, I decided I wanted a slightly different cut. The TV pattern is made so that you cut the front, side front and back with the center on-grain, and there’s one very large side-back panel which has one edge on grain. This is a historical pattern lay-out, however, I knew many patterns were also cut with one edge on grain and the other on the bias. All bias edges are matched with a straight edge which limits stretching and moves the width of the skirt to the back. So I decided to re-draw the pattern. I laid out all original pieces, and using Patterns of Fashion 2 as a guide, re-drew the lines so I had a front-side, side, back-side, and back piece with one edge to be on grain. The front piece I kept as was. Despite changing it up, I don’t regret getting the pattern, as it helps to get the width/length right without too much fuss. (I’d also love to one day make the pattern as-was, to compare the differences!)

A rough outline of how I changed the pattern. (These pieces are roughly based on the PoF2 skirt with a similar pattern as the TV one). Step one is to arrange all pattern pieces so the sides match.

 

Then, I divided the waist and hem by 5, marked those spots and connected the dots to end up with 5 even patterns. (Note that in the red pattern, the back panel is fully shown, while I wanted one per side. In the TV pattern, I also ended up with exactly the front panel as new front panel).

 

And then all panels are turned and grainlines drawn such that the edge on the front is on grain, and the back edge on the bias! I did it this way to ensure I ended up with a suitable waist and hem measurement and curve. This little picture was done by eye, so they don’t really match in size properly, but this gives an idea!

Pattern sketch 1e

 

Main construction was fairly simple. I didn’t interline the skirt as I meant for it to be a petticoat, and I gave it a center-back closure. When the basic skirt was constructed, I fell in love with the color even more. This was the point where I thought how great it would be if I were able to wear it as an outer skirt as well, because it was just so pretty!

So when it came to the lace, I had to think a bit on how to place it, as on an outer skirt it would be much more visible. In the end, I decided to place it not on the bottom edge, but a little higher up. Moreover, I decided on adding white cotton ruffles. I’d originally thought about these for a petticoat and wondered if they wouldn’t make it too underwear-like, but I’m really happy I went with them.

Debating lace placement options

 

I could actually use most of the left-over hemmed strips from my previous petticoat (for which I’d hemmed too many ruffles), so that was good!

The base skirt was hemmed a little on the short side, to be able to still work as petticoat as well. I did this  by machine as the ruffles would cover it up anyway. The ruffles were stitched on, and then the lace on top.

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And then it was done! I’m very pleased with how this came out, and that I can wear it as outer wear as well. It actually looks quite good with my Edwardian blouse, despite that being a little later in date! I wore the skirt + blouse to a shoot day at castle Geldrop, where it fit quite well with the surroundings!

Ruud De Korte

Photographer: Ruud de Korte

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Photographer: Martijn van Huffelen

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Photographer: Werner Russel

Bicycle skirt

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

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An original sweater from the MET ca 1895

 

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

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

 

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

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The fabric, this picture probably shows the colors best

 

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

 

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

 

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

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Back pleats

 

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

Button holes & buttons on the opening.

 

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

When visiting the museum!

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

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Photograph by Amabile

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Photo by PressCoat Photography

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Photo by PressCoat Photography

1894 Petticoat

For my 1890s project I decided I want 2 new petticoats. I have an Edwardian petticoat which is too slim for 1895, but which is usable as a ‘bottom’ petticoat. The second petticoat would build the right shape, and the final petticoat I’m planning to make with the same pattern as the skirt and make in more fun fabric. That one is to really get to the wide shape of the period. This post is about the second, so the middle petticoat! This is how it turned out:

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After getting some white cotton I  started looking for patterns. I browsed trough the 1894 to 86 issues of the Gracieuse, and eventually found this petticoat:

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There was a tiny pattern on the pattern sheet. Way to small to read any text, but enough to get a feeling for the shapes. I figured that the front and back would be cut on the fold, and that the horizontal line through the back and side panels would be where the gathering happens. I ended up not using the dart in the side panel, as that piece is gathered on anyway.

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My first step was to translate it to roughly the right length and width. For the length I just measured how far I wanted it, for the width I used the placement of the front-side seam. In the picture you can see that this is just slightly further than halfway around the body. This way I could figure out the width I wanted the front panel, and increase the size of the others similarly.

My first step was to take some notes and measures:

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For construction, the first step was to cut the main skirt shapes, and sew them all together. The front panel has two darts, and has a yoke as waistband.

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The side and back are gathered to a waistband which is itself a bit larger than the waist circumference. The waistband then encases a string (starting at the seam between front and side panels) which ties in place center back.

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On the side and back panels, a piece of cotton tape is stitched on, encasing another cord (again starting at the seam between the front and side panel) which ties center back. Pulling this in keeps the width of the skirt towards the back, and the front smooth. This is quite typical of the skirts of this era. Though very wide, the folds are in the back.

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For the ruffles, I cut one strip 42cm high and one about 16cm high. All ruffles were hemmed with a rolled (machine) hem. This took a while. The small ruffle was about 15m long, the other one about 7m.

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I used my machine pleater foot to sew the small ruffle to the large one, and the large one to the base skirt. Before sewing, the top was simply ironed over about 1cm. In retrospect I cut too much ruffle fabric, as I didn’t really calculate the ratio beforehand. There’s plenty on the skirt though, and I can easily re-use the rest as linings later.

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And this is how it looks finished! I’ve put it over the old Edwardian petticoat to properly show what the shape would be at this point. It’s starting to show the typical A-line shape with fulness in the back. The final petticoat will serve to make the shape even more extreme.