Inspiration – Victorian summer dresses

It’s been unusually warm and dry here in the Netherlands (and in most of Europe, I believe). That’s gotten me thinking of light, summer style dresses. I don’t have any at the moment, all of mine are either silk, velvet or wool. So one of these might have to go onto the (long) list of things I want to make one day…

Last year I did a post on summer dresses of the period just before the Victorian age, so for this post, let’s look at some Victorian examples!

These dresses are all made of very light cotton. They protect the skin from the sun, and the white is relatively cool. The cotton is rather thin, and breathes well. Of course, a fashionable lady would still seek out the shade, and wear a bonnet and parasol as well to protect from the sun.

Some crinoline styles. In this era, flowers on white seem tho have been quite popular!

COTTON DRESS with STRAWBERRY PRINT, 1863

 

I particularly like the pin-tucks on this bodice.

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Some nice stripy contrast!

Day dress, late 1860′s From the John Bright Historic Costume Collection

 

PRINTED DIMITY DAY DRESS, 1860s 1-piece, white, windowpane-woven w/ small red flower print, self fabric belt, trained skirt.

 

Organza dress ca. 1865. Bodice has muslin foundation trimmed in needlelace accented with bows. Time Travelers Estate Sales

 

Some solid white, as we’re moving into the bustle era.

Dress, ca. 1870

 

But dots are nice too!

Day dress, American (attrib.), ca. 1873-77. White cotton printed with red circles. Bodice: fitted over hips, ruffled edge, long sleeves. Skirt: bustle with white cotton and red trim. Overskirt: as draped apron. Kent State Univ. Museum

Two afternoon dresses in printed cotton, ca. 1875. Part of the Jacoba de Jonge collection, which is now owned by the Mode Museum in Antwerp. Filep Motwary blog

 

And, to finish, two more solid white dresses from the 1880’s this time

Dress, European, ca. 1885. Cotton plain weave with cotton cutwork embroidery (broderie anglaise) & cotton needle lace. Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Rebecca Thelin/Flickr, and thecourtesanblue/Flickr

Dress ca. 1885 via The Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art

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.