2021 year in review

It’s January, so time for the annual re-cap of the last year! I always like these re-caps because they typically show that I did more than I thought. The big projects always take over a bit in my mind, but with all the ‘smaller’ things the work adds up!

I started the year finishing some 1830’s accessories. I started the bonnet at the end of 2020, and finished the covering and trimming. The pelerine was actually started before I finished my gold 1830’s dress as I wanted to know how much fabric I had left. I left it just cut and not sewn, as I didn’t need it at that time. I finished it over the holidays, and although I haven’t worn it yet, it is nice to have another option to play with when wearing 1830’s things!

Next up were two other unfinished projects. These two dresses got thrown into the ‘naughty-basket’ at some point, and I finally took time to take them out again. The first is a winter dress with a lovely fabric of 17th century skaters on it. The other one is a 1940’s model I was happy to finally finish.

My next project was a quick, unplanned one. I joined in filming for a TV series in Febuary (it will actually start airing next week!). However, based on pictures they choose for me to wear my dark green ball gown, even though it was freezing that week, and it should be around 0 Celcius on the day of filming. Cue: me sewing a bodice in a weekend. I had enough fabric left to make something with a high collar and long sleeves to wear, which would actually work with extra warm layers underneath. The plus side: we got some very nice pictures in the snow when I finished it!

After this quick project, I went back to the other thing I had been working on, which was a late 1900’s vest to match my split skirt. This was a real tailoring project, the first time using canvas interfacing or pad stitching, and I’m still really happy with how it turned out. It took quite a bit of time for a ‘simple’ garment, but it was a lot of fun to learn new stuff. I finished it just in time for a photoshoot, so thanks to Martijn van Huffelen for the pictures!

Then, in April, I joined as a pattern tester for the Selina blouse from Scroop Patterns. I’d had this pale blue fabric for a while with exactly such a blouse in mind, so it was nice timing. I haven’t worn this as much as I probably should, perhaps there’ll be some 1910’s events in the future to wear it also in a more historical setting?

After a spring of small projects, it was time for the long-term again. I had an event in October, and although I didn’t absolutely need a new dress, it was the perfect timing to finally use a gorgeous gold silk I’d had for a couple of years. I worked on this project for about four months, to make an underskirt, overskirt, train and two bodices. I really love how this fabric flows, and I loved wearing both the evening and the ball version.

The weekend before this same event, I decided to try to churn out a morning gown as well. It was an event with sleep-over, and there’s nothing better than a simple flowly gown for fancy breakfasts. I got this beautiful hand-print fabric from an Indian shop a bit before, and it made for a beautiful flowy gown. I might still go back and add some trim to this at some point, but I loved lounging around in it already.

Throughout the entire year, the thing I probably worked on most was actually not something historical, and not something for myself. In November 2020, I started on the wedding dress for my sister-in-law. This was such a lovely thing to work on. There were a lot of new things from me, from the tulle skirts to the mesh overlay on the bodice and the little pieces of lace. I took my time on this one, and finished it about 2 weeks before the wedding without needing to rush. It’s definitely one of the most neatly finished things I ever made, and one of the most special projects I’ve done. There’s posts on the skirt, bodice, lace, and the finished thing for who’s interested.

After the two big projects I finished in October, I took a little break. In November, I started sewing again and I made a second version of the split skirt, this time in black wool. This was a relatively simple project (I’d already made one before, which always helps), and something I think I’ll really enjoy wearing in daily life situations as well.

And that was it for finished projects in 2021!

Looking at what I planned at the beginning of the year, most of the concrete plans got done (there weren’t that many: the 1830s accessories, modern dresses, 1890s vest and wedding dress). The main thing which didn’t get finished are the hand-sewn 18th century stays. I did work on them, and I’m practically finished with the boning channels now, but I’ve been delaying the next step. I also didn’t do any of the ‘maybe’s’ I put in that post, but instead I did make the gold/black gown, which had also been on the wishlist for a while. And I made an 1890s bodice, a 1910’s blouse, a 1890’s wrapper and 1900 split skirt, none of which were planned. All in all it was a pretty good sewing year, especially considering the time that went into the wedding dress!

Split skirt – the second version

The last project of 2021 for me was a split skirt. I made a pair early in 2020, and after the gold bustle and wedding dress I was looking for a project which would need a little less figuring out. The great thing about making something a second time, is that you already have a finished version to look at when things get confusing. It also didn’t need a mock-up, which definitely speeds up the process.

The pattern is Truly Victorian TV299.

This version was made out of black wool. It’s just a little heavier than the wool I used for my brown version, so I chose not to line this one. It’s also wool which doesn’t fray, so no seam finishes necessary!

I got 3,5m of fabric for this project, as that’s what the pattern calls for. However, when laying out the pattern, I could get it out of more like 2m of 150cm wide fabric. It required a little piecing of the back panel, as that’s wider than 75cm (half the fabric width). However, this piecing is on the inner leg, so it’s nearly invisible when worn, and it was worth saving fabric for me. So if you’re looking at this pattern but want to save on fabric, it’s definitely possible, especially with the 1,5m width. I believe mine is a size D. Below is a picture of the pattern lay-out.

The pattern starts with pressing pleats. There’s few things as satisfying, nor as difficult to take pictures of, as pleats in black wool.

This pattern doesn’t include pockets. What looks like the pocket openings are actually the opening for the front fall closure. I’ve worn my 18th century separate pockets with my other split skirt, and that does work. So I decided to sew in similar pockets into the waistband for this skirt! I basically made 18th-century style pocket bags, and attached those such that the opening would be aligned with the fall front opening.

They don’t fit really large items, as that will show bulk under the fairly tight upper part of the split skirt. However, it’s definitely good to have the option to carry things!

I found beautiful buttons for the front, but the store didn’t quite have enough to also put buttons on the pocket flaps, as called for. So I decided to use some decorative stitching on the pockets instead, and close them with hooks. They have a hook middle center, and a snap at the bottom. However, there’s a little bit of gaping at the top right now, so I do want to back and add another hook between the middle and the top.

The pattern calls for doing the button holes very early on, but with the bicycle length the lowest button hole and button get in the way of hemming. So this time, I left off the bottom button until the end. At that point I decided I didn’t really need it any way, so I just left it off entirely.

It’s quite difficult to take pictures of the skirt, as the wool absorbs the light, but I tried! I’m wearing my Emmy Design cycling sweater, which goes perfectly with it. I’m looking forward to wearing this for both historical and daily stuff!

The Bridal dress Project – Reveal!

Time for some pictures of the finished dress! The wedding was last October, in a lovely little restaurant in the woods. The weather was nice as well, so quite a bit of time was spent outside, making for some lovely images.

To start with, some of the lovely couple!

The groom is wearing a little tulle flower I made of scraps from the hemming of the skirt. I made one for the witnesses as well, so we could all have a little flower and link to the bride.

I helped with the preparations. Aside from being master of ceremonies and witness, I helped the bride get into her dress and with her hair. The ‘backstage’ room was the storage room, in which we got ready so the arriving guests wouldn’t yet see the bride. I especially love this first picture of me arranging the train.

The other two pictures are the ones taken by the photographer of us together during the day!

I also took some ‘finished’ pictures of the dress on my dummy. Although it doesn’t fit quite as nicely (particularly the sheer overlay at the top, as my dummy’s shoulders are quite narrow in the back), this does allow for some good ‘dress’ pictures. I really love how you can see the layers of the train in these.

Some details of the top!

And of the back. I’m still very happy with how the back of the dress looked.

Details of the lace and sparkles.

And the inside! This is definitely one of the neatest finished garments I’ve ever made, and I’m really happy with how the inside looks. The little loops were added on the sides to support the dress when on the hanger. This way the sheer top doesn’t need to support the full dress.

Inside details of the eyelets in the back, and the lace on the sheer overlay.

And that was it for the wedding dress posts! This was definitely one of the most special projects I’ve ever done, as well as one of the biggest. I really loved working with new types of fabrics for this and trying out new things. I’m really happy with how it turned out, and it was really special to be a part of the beautiful wedding in this way.

As an overview, the making-off posts:

The skirt base

The bodice base

All the lace

The Bridal gown project – Lace, lace lace!

With the base of the top and the tulle skirt finished it was finally time to start on the decorations! The plan was to have a full lace bodice, some lace on the sheer overlay at the top, and if time permitted some lace motifs sprinkled on the skirt.

We bought two types of lace for this project, both with a tulle base. The first (left) was a little finer and thinner, the second (right) had some sparkle on it. The plan was to make the base of a lace overlay for the bodice out of the left fabric, and to use the individual motifs from both laces on top to create a denser, detailed lace overlay.

To make the lace overlay, I started with the pattern pieces for the bodice. The reason for making a lace overlay instead of just flatlining the lace to the original bodice patterns is to avoid any visible seams in the lace. In this lace overlay, the pattern pieces are cut so that all lace motifs were kept intact. Whenever the motif overlays where the seam needs to be, it will be cut out around the edges and placed on top of the panel next to it so that the original seamlines meet. When the seam lies in a place without a motif there will be a 5mm overlap between the pieces of tulle base. This is then sewn down by hand, around the edge of the motifs, and any tulle underneath a motif going over a seam is cut away from underneath after. This basically creates an invisible seam except where it’s just tulle, which will be covered later.

I have very little pictures of actually sewing the panels together, but below is one. You can see how the pins sort of follow the shape of the one lace motif, which is placed over the other side. This was then stitched by hand all the way around the lace. Time consuming, but definitely worth it for the effect!

When I finished the base of the lace overlay in this way, I put it on the dress on my dress form to have a look. The lace placement was intentionally picked to not be symmetrical. On the back, I ended up with just the little leaf of one motif on one side of the base of the bodice, and the rest of the motif on top. I left this in initially because cutting it out would remove a little piece from the lace base. In the end, both the bride and me actually really liked how this motif looked on the sheer overlay of the back, so we kept it in!

The next step was to cut out lace. A lot of it. I cut out both the bigger motifs, and little pieces from the borders of the lace for some diversity in size and shape. I used a small scissor for this, and a lot of tv watching was done in the meantime, and for a while my room was full of little tulle scraps…

When I had a good collection of lace bits, we had another fitting to try out how we wanted to place the lace on the bodice. Below you see two versions we tried. The right side of the bodice (left picture) is a bit less densely covered in lace than the left side (right picture). In the end, we ended up deciding to have the top half more like the right picture (less dense), and the bottom a little more like the left picture (denser). This actually gives a nice balance. You can see the neckline a bit through the lace at the top, but the edge of the bodice is completely hidden at the bottom. When placing the lace, I played around a bit to get it to hide all the seams in the tulle, not be symmetrical, but still feel balanced.

And then I could go back to stitching! All the little lace pieces (you can see from the pins a little bit how many there were) were stitched on the lace overlay by hand one by one, all the way around the edge. Again, this was some work, but it’s really the only way to give this a nice invisible finish. The lace which would lie on top of the side seam I actually left pinned and not sewed on for this stage. Because we started the bodice quite far in advance, we wanted to be able to do a final fitting closer to the wedding date. Not stitching on the lace on the side seam meant it would be much easier to take in the side seam later if necessary without having to unpick all of the lace bits first, or stitching over them.

Then it was time for the lace on the top half! Again, I used little lace cut outs, and played around with it. I ended up with a bit of the illusion of straps on the front out of little flowers, and a larger motif on each side on the back. This too took some pinning and re-pinning to design as I didn’t want symmetry, but it still needed to feel the same on both sides. Once these bits were pinned in place, I sewed on the lace overlay along the top and bottom edge of the bodice base, and then all the little lace pieces at the top over it one by one.

With the lace on, it really started to look finished, and I could finally work on closures. We’d been fitting with a canvas strip with lacing eyelets I was pinning into the back temporarily (with a red ribbon, because that’s what I happened to have laying around). I played around with the eyelets first, because I wanted to see what different sizes would do when placed on top of the lace, which is not quite flat. Both the 5mm and 4mm eyelets worked, so I let the bride pick a size, who went with the 4mm. I used prym two-piece 4mm silver eyelets for this. I’ve used one-piece before, and those tend to split, leaving sharp edges on the inside. That’s definitely not what you want, so the two-piece ones are much better. The 4mm ones have a little bit of an edge on the inside, but after trying it on this wasn’t feelable for the bride, so we ended up not placing anything underneath.

For the lacing, I used a white organza ribbon. I really love how this works very well with the lace an tulle of the dress. The dress criss-cross laces with this ribbon. As you can see, there’s a bone in the center back (sewn into the bodice base) which keeps the lacing straight. It was designed to have a small V shape when laced closed.

Then it was time to turn to the skirt! For the skirt, I cut out all remaining ‘smaller’ motifs on the softer lace, and sprinkled them around the skirt. Then I sewed them onto the top tulle layer, again by hand all the way around the edge, using an embroidery hoop to make sure it would lay nicely on the tulle layer.

This is one of the few things that I timed doing. Sewing on one motif took about 1 hour, and the skirt has 18 of them.

The very final step was to do the final fitting! At this step, I did indeed end up taking in the sides just a smidge to ensure a snug fit. I removed the bone casing from the side seam, sewed a new seam in the base layers only, re-trimmed the seam allowances and sewed on the boning channel again. Then I put a very small fold in the base layer of the lace overlay on top of this, to also take out the width in that layer. The lace motifs which I hadn’t sewed on yet were then pinned and sewed on top of that little fold. This way, it’s nearly impossible to tell it has been taken in a little bit!

And then she was, really, finally, done! I finished a couple of weeks before the wedding, after starting almost 10 months earlier. I really loved making this dress, and although I’m glad to free up some time for other sewing again, this was a very special project to work on. I learned so much, was able to make something that actually looks pretty inside and out, and take my time to do things well. And it was really lovely to make something for something that would mean so much to them.

Stay tuned for finished full reveal pictures in the next post!

The Bridal gown project – The top

In my previous post about this wedding dress project, I showed the skirt base. For this post, we’ll turn towards the base for the bodice!

The basic idea for the bodice was a sweetheart neckline with a low back, and a sheer layer above both, closing high in the front and in a v in the back.

This bodice started from a Truly Victorian late 19th century bodice pattern. I chose a Victorian bodice specifically because these are meant to have very little ease, so to fit closely to the body without much extra space. For this bodice, it was important that it fit fairly closely as there should be no weight on the sheer top part. So basically, it needs to hold itself up without straps. This only works if it fits closely, and has boning to stop it from collapsing.

Below is the pattern I started with, which had a front, side and back panel. I basically used the front dart to split the front pattern into two parts, and the top was eventually removed. I made about 3 mock-ups first to fit the pattern. The first two were out of an old sheet. The first with the top of the pattern still attached, with the only alteration being to shorten the length of the pattern, as the bride has a shorter torso than the pattern counts on. Then a second one the top cut off and boning taped in, as not having this top really changes the fit on the top edge. And a third one to check if the changes worked and for some final tweaks. This final one is shown below, and was made out of canvas, as the final bodice would be made of sturdier material than the sheet fabric I’d used so far. This final mock-up also had the bra-cups which I would use for the eventual dress, as this too changes the bust shape a bit.

And then it was time to start with the actual bodice! The bodice base is made out of two layers. The first is a sturdy plain white cotton. The second is a cotton bobbinet. Bobbinet is a very strong mesh fabric, which when doubled can even be used for corsets. It’s best known for being used in 1950’s couture bodices as structural layer. I wanted to use it as it is both very light and very sturdy, so it allows for a closer fitting bodice with some tension on it, without adding a lot of bulk.

I cut my pattern pieces out of both the cotton and the bobbinet, and then flatlined the layers. So basically, I put them on top of each other and treated them as one layer. The pattern pieces were then sewn together. The little red lines you see on the constructed bodice are the outlines of where the bra cups need to go. I used a magic marker for this project, which means that the pen lines disappear with time, which is good, but inconvenient if you need to know where to put something a week later.

The raw seams on the inside were covered with boning channels. I used the tape which is also used in bras, which is good because it’s soft and meant so sit next to the body. We actually did double check if the bobbinet wouldn’t feel scratchy on the inside as well, but because it’s made out of cotton it is much softer than the polyester tulle that it looks a bit like, so this was fine as an inner layer. As boning, I used 5mm wide synthetic whalebone.

Then came binding! I made my own bias tape out of the cotton fabric to bind both the top and the bottom of the bodice for a nice finish. I was particularly happy with the little v center front, which was made by sewing the binding into this shape before attaching it. A bit fiddly, but it looks pretty neat when done! The binding was sewn to the outside by machine, flipped inside, and finished by hand. The little prick-stitches will disappear later underneath the lace overlay.

As you can see on the picture on the dummy, the boning lines over the seams in the front flatten the chest a bit. To help with general support and comfort, I sewed two bra cups into the dress on the top and inside. This helps the bodice keep a nice shape as well.

And that was the base of the lower half of the bodice done! The back closures were done later, as that required the lace to be put on first. For now, it was time to sew the skirt onto the dress. I sewed it on such that the seam allowance of the tulle is hidden inside underneath the lining layer. Basically, under my sewing machine, I had the tulle part of the skirt on top of the bodice right sides together, and then underneath that the skirt lining right side to the wrong side of the bodice. This also makes sure the seams of the lining are to the outside, which seems odd, until you realize that it’s actually the inside of the lining which will be most visible.

I stitched the skirt to the waistline of the bodice, so not actually to the bottom edge, as you can see below. It’s just machine stitched on, there’s no need to hide this seam as it won’t show through the lace later on.

Then it was time for the top! I used a ‘body tulle’ fabric for this which is extremely sheer and light. I patterned this on the body, as the bride has roughly the same size, as my dummy, but not the same proportions. Most notably, my dummy has the shoulders/arms very far back, and the shoulder slope is different, so it looks a bit odd on her. In the end, this draping on the body meant I ended up with a slightly unsymmetrical shape which I didn’t like. So I ended up removing the whole thing, and taking one side, and using that as a base to pattern both sides. I re-cut it, and re-sewed it on, tried it on the bride again, and this worked better.

This sheer mesh is just stitched by hand to the top edge of the bodice, raw edge to the outside. It doesn’t fray (I did cut it a little shorter than shown in these pictures), and the edge doesn’t show under a layer of lace. Along the neckline and sleeve holes, I stitched a thin line with nylon invisible thread, just to protect the edges a bit. This fabric warps out of shape when pulled, and when the wearer is moving (the arms in particular) it can get stretched out of shape a bit. This isn’t the most durable solution (it will still stretch a bit), but for a bridal gown which will not see a ton of wearing, it is fine. The alternative would be to have a more visible edge (with a small seam or stretch lace or something similar), so we opted for this method.

And then the whole base of the dress was finished. In the next post: lace lace lace! This really was just the base for the dress, and all the decoration was still to come.

A gown for lounging and mornings

The event I finally made my gold/black dress for was a couple of days. And late nights and early evenings call for a more relaxed type of dress. One I did not have in my closet, as most of my events are just the outside day affairs or balls.

I finished my gold ensemble (at least to the point of being wearable) a week before I had to leave. So of course, I decided I probably could made a morning gown in that time, right?

What helped was that I already had the fabric, the pattern and the plan.

A couple of months ago, a friend decided some fabric from Fabriclore, an Indian fabric shop, selling a wide range of beautiful fabrics. I joined in with that order, and got a couple of beautiful cotton prints, including one I knew I wanted to use for a morning/tea gown.

It’s a light cream crinkled cotton with a distinct texture. It’s very drapey, not quite sheer but near to it, and it has a beautiful hand-block print of little blue and green flowers on it. Morning gowns are often quite full and flowy, without the normal Victorian structure, so I knew it’d be perfect for that.

Pattern wise, I had seen Cynthia from Redthreaded adapt this Wearing History pattern for a morning jacket into a full dress. She has a video about that process here. I was lucky enough that the original pattern (which only comes in the one, original, size) was pretty much my size, so I knew I wouldn’t have to do too much to make it fit me. And Cynthia’s method of lengthening the jacket worked so beautifully, that I knew this would be the perfect solution to getting a dress instead of a jacket out of an existing pattern.

E-Pattern Victorian 1890s 1897 Morning Jacket Bust 36 image 1

The pattern is late 1890’s, and I particularly love the back design with the pleats which are a historicism echoing 18th century Watteau pleats. You see this a lot in the 1890’s, and in informal gowns in particular. This dress is also unfitted at the front, with just a belt, which is perfect if you want to wear this both with and without a corset. Although some of these dresses are completely unfitted at the waist, I do appreciate the belt to ‘break’ the silhouette a little bit. Below is a beautiful period example showing the typical types of pleats in the back:

Dressing gown, wool, American or European
Dressing gown1880–90, MET Museum

I made very few pictures of the process of making this, as I was on a tight deadline and Cynthia already has a video about how she made it. I chose to line the top (basically the original jacket part) with a plain white cotton. I also followed her method of gathering the bottom front and stitching it down a little lower, to create a tiny little ruffle. For the back, I chose pleats instead of the gathering shown on the pattern envelope, to make it look more like the extant dresses with pleats that I like so much. The pleats are stitched down to the lining to help them stay in the back a bit.

The skirt of the dress is not lined, to help with the flowy-ness. As the fabric is a little sheer, I did wear it with a petticoat underneath. This helps give some volume without weighing down the actual skirt of the dress.

I didn’t have time for trim, which I still might add later on, but for now I was really happy to finish it on time. I even opted to machine-sew the button holes, because although I like hand-sewn ones, I just didn’t have the time. Sometimes it’s good to allow yourself shortcuts if you know it’ll save you on stress and sleep while finishing something on time. And I’m really happy I managed to get this done in time to wear it, as I got a lot of use out of it as both an easy gown for breakfast and one for some relaxing after the dancing had finished in the evening. It was a wonderful lounging garment at a wonderful event!

A picture on the last morning, by Timelight Photographic:

St Audries Wedding Anniversary October 2021 (320).jpg

And two more with my own camera, to show the back:

1880s Gold Bustle dress – All done!

In my two previous posts, I shared the progress of making an 1880’s gold/black bustle dress.

I’ve had the gold fabric for this dress for a while. The occasion to finally make this was a private anniversary in the U.K. to which I was graciously invited. There were a couple of days, all in the ‘Victorian bustle’ theme, so it was the perfect reason to make a new garment. The event was lovely, and I really loved wearing this new dress. As always, I have some small things I want to fix already (mostly necklines which wanted to gap open a little), but overall I’m really happy with how it turned out. This fabric was a joy to work with and wear.

Thanks to Serena and Melchior for taking some pictures for me!

It was originally inspired by this dress from the MET:

MET museum Evening dressca. 1880 Wechsler & Abraham 

I changed the underskirt to better suit my taste and fabric stash, inspired by the design of this dress:

NGV. Day dress (c. 1883) ENGLAND Medium silk, cotton lace, metal Accession Number 1411.a-b-D5

And I added a ballgown bodice based mostly on this existent one;

“Evening dress, 1886-87. Philadelphia Museum of Art.”

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!

1830s Pelerine

I finished another UFO! When I made my gold 1830’s dress, I also cut out the fabric for a pelerine, as my inspiration original had a matching one. However, I didn’t have occasion to wear my dress outside, nor did I have a hat to do so, so the pelerine didn’t have any urgency. It also had many scallops, so I left it. But I’ve been on a UFO finishing streak and I now have a 1830s bonnet, so it was time to finish the pelerine!

I chose to finish my scallops by lining them instead of binding them as it would cost less fabric and I thought it might be easier. I don’t think it was all that much easier in retrospect, but I’m happy enough with how it turned out. I did add the piping between scallops and the pelerine though!

I tried two versions of the scallops beforehand, and settled on the deeper scallops. In retrospect, I should have drawn them out fully, as the trick to clean scallops is that you can cut the seam allowance all the way to the point. Turns out that’s very difficult if your stitching lines are too close. I did this right in the sample, but in many places in the eventual thing I had to snip some stitching to make it lay nice (and then use fray check, which is definitely not what you’re supposed to do…). Drawing out the scallops would have helped to keep enough space between the stitching lines.

I’ve tried to illustrate this below. Red is how to do it, with the green arrows showing you could cut all the way between the red lines. Blue is how not to do it, as there is a large overlap of the stitching lines of both sides which will make the scallops impossible to turn around.

I like how I now have a pretty versatile set of 1830’s things. I have 2 dresses, one green and one gold. The gold has detachable lower sleeves, so can be worn for both evening (ball) and day wear. The green would work for (non-ball) evening and day activities as well, it’s copied from an evening gown but has long sleeves to work for day. I have a brown/white bonnet which will go with both dresses. I have an antique white cotton pelerine which will go with both (though probably looks best on the green), and I have a gold silk pelerine which would work both with the green and the gold dress. Ideally, I’d have two more additions to this: a white bodice/blouse to wear with the green skirt (as the gold dress doesn’t have a separate skirt/bodice it won’t work with that) and make it more informal; and a coat, for which I actually already have green wool fabric. Those aren’t up next though, because I’ll first be making an 1890s vest of the leftover fabric of my split skirt. I’ve already started on that!

A new hat to start the new year

Happy 2021 everyone! With the new year, it’s time for the looking back & looking forward posts, but I thought I’d start with my first finished project for 2021. A new hat!

I started this 1830s bonnet after finishing my 1830s dress, which I took pictures of with my Regency bonnet. The styles are similar enough to work, but hats did grow a bit more in the 1830s to match the wider skirts and bigger sleeves. For my bonnet, I wanted something that’d work with both my green and my gold dress, and I settled on a white/brown combination of fabrics.

And, I actually used a pattern! That was quite helpful, as bonnets are complicated. Mine was the Romantic period bonnet pattern by Lynn McMasters.

My main inspiration for the trim and look was this bonnet from Costumes Parisiens (1834)

I found some ribbon which was perfect for the style, and set off to work. That took a while, as I don’t particularly enjoy making hats, so I worked on it on and off since October. I made the frame, wired it, mulled it, and covered it, and these last past days I stitched on the trim to finish it.

My bear kindly tried it on for me before I covered it

So now it’s done, which means I have a full 1830s outfit to wear to outside events as well. Hopefully I’ll be able to take these out on a picnic sometime this year!