1895 Ball gown – Bodice

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

IMG_0168

 

 

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

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

20200308_181111

First bodice fitting, pretty good!

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

The rough  inspiration for the bodice

 

20200322_124928

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

 

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

20200411_120628

 

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

20200321_110310

Comparing sleeve shapes from TV & Janet Arnold

 

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

 

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

20200410_182038

 

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

20200404_145449

Backing the beaded piece with organza

How the bodice closes:

 

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

IMG_0150IMG_0070

 

I also took it for a twirl!

IMG_0260IMG_0269

1895 Ball gown – skirt

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

 

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

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

20200202_212735

 

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

20200207_204121

 

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

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

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

Whip stitching the waistband on:

20200222_104518

 

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

IMG_0056

 

The edge is left raw and turned down.

IMG_0044

This is what it looks like from the outside

IMG_0045

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

IMG_0043

 

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

IMG_0048

 

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

 

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

 

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

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.

20200131_201242

 

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.

20200129_184618

 

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

DSC_4650bweb

Photographer: Martijn van Huffelen

Werner Ruesselweb

Photographer: Werner Russel

1895 fever

I’m currently on holiday, so a little scheduled prettiness for this post!

Although I’m still working on the stays, I’ve also been brainstorming about my next project, because I’m going to a ball next May with 1890-1902 as theme! I have a ca. day 1905 ensemble, but nothing 1890’s, so it’s time for a new dress.

I have some plans already, which mostly center around year & fabric. I have some emerald green dupioni I’ve been trying to find a project for. The main problem is that it’s dupioni, so not quite historical. My ‘fix’ for this is to overlay it with black silk organza, which I also have in my stash. It will disguise the slubs a bit, and should create a nice overlay effect! (I’m also very partial to black-green combinations, as people familiar with my regular wardrobe will know). The slubs will still show a bit, but this will allow me to finally use this fabric I’ve had in my stash for a couple of years. I’d really hate to ‘waste’ this fabric by not using it, and I think this is a nice compromise.

20180103_113401b.jpg

It’s hard to get the color right on screen, but this comes close. Beautiful color, but quite slubby.

 

The other plan so far is to go full out, crazy 1895. The 1890’s saw quite a lot of change, with sleeves being slim at the beginning and end of the decade, but growing to huge in-between. 1895 is the height of crazy-big sleeve period. I didn’t use to love it, but it’s grown on me, and doing these extreme’s is just so much fun!

So for this post, some big-sleeved inspirations from contemporary plates and portraits!

Some with the lovely green color:

Green/black, with silk dupioni?

 

Some working with overlays and extra ruffles:

 

Portrait of Countess of Santiago | Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida | oil painting

 

And some because they’re just too fun and quirky to skip:

La Mode Artistique, February 1895

L'Art et la Mode 1893 N°02 Complete with colored engraving by Marie de Solar, Emma Calve

L'Art et la Mode 1895 N°25 Complete with colored engraving by Marie de Solar