1830s dress

I started thinking about a 1830s dress quite a while back, mostly inspired by the wonderful Nikki, who does this era so well. About half a year ago, the theme for the new-years ball in Ghent was announced to be 1830-1860, and I figured that this would be the perfect excuse to finally start this dress.

I already had the fabric, a wonderful pale gold figured silk. So I started looking at pictures, and was immediately drawn to the pleated sleeves you see appear around 1836. The 1830’s is known for the huge sleeves, and I do like those, but I love the pleats, so that’s what I went for. (When in doubt: do what excites you most). I looked at quite a lot of originals (online) in the MET museum, and eventually settled on this dress:

Jan historical - gold 1830s gown

 

I love the sleeves on this dress, how they still have the fabric fullness, but also the pleats. I also quite liked the shape of the bertha, and the little rosettes. Extra bonus was that I figured I could make the ‘sleeve bands’ removable, and make the dress more versatile this way. It also has removable undersleeves, and a pelerine which transforms it into a day dress. I’m all for versatility, so that’s great.

Ensemble, silk, AmericanEnsemble, silk, American

 

In making this dress, I tried to copy it as much as possible. That meant lots of piping, and double piping, which was quite a bit of work, but definitely worth it.

The process of making double piping I found in the 1876 ‘Guide to dressmaking ‘, which can be found online (page 30). Basically, you take a bias strip, put a cord in one half, then a cord in the other half, then fold double to get a double cord.

 

The bertha was made following Janet Arnold’s ca. 1840 dress. It has a cotton canvas base, and the silk are bias strips which are stitched on top. It looks like pleats when finished, but the construction is quite different.

 

For this dress, I also really wanted to try out padding, inspired by a talk by Luca Costigliolio on padding in 19th century bodices. (The gist: it’s extremely common, for all types of figures, through the eras. Sometimes visible, sometimes hidden.). The silhouette in this era is quite wide, and I can use a little help in the bust era in general. I made my padding of cotton quilting sheets. Cutting in layers of 2, I cut 4 circles in increasing diameter.

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I ended up taking off the smallest one, and folding it up to fill in the space above the bust a bit. This is a place you often see padding in originals as well. The padding was placed quite wide in the end, as the main goal was to increase width. I really love how it ended up, the effect is subtle enough that you don’t immediately think it’s padded, but it helps the whole shape so much.

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I sewed a cotton ‘lining’ to the padding before sewing the whole thing into the bodice. This is the final shape.

 

The sleeves are pleated towards the middle at the top, and then stitched a bit further down as well. The armhole is piped, and the shoulder seam as well. For the final sleeves, I made sleeve bands which are pinned around the fullest part of the sleeve.

 

I also followed Janet Arnold for the skirt, taking inspiration for the skirt fullness, and gathering the very back, then pleating the rest forwards, as the original also shows. I choose not to fully line the skirt, as my original shows a line of stitching where the facing is attached, so I faced the hem as well.

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Hem facing. The long stitches are to catch the silk where it’s folded double, so the hem is basically 2 layers of silk and one of cotton.

I sewed all invisible seams by machine for this dress, but all the finishing is by hand, as usual. The dress closes with hooks in the back, and the final touch are the little rosettes. One to hide the endpoints of the bertha, one on each sleeve band and one in the back. They are made by covering a button, and then gathering a folded strip of bias to form a circle.

 

I managed to finish the whole dress just in time for the new years ball last weekend. I’d counted on skipping the sleeve band, or not finishing the insides, due to lack of time, but it was done! I made this in about 5 weeks, (2 of which were holiday), which I think is a record for me. I also managed to finish without rushing through anything, which I’m really pleased with. Now I just have to make under sleeves and a pelerine with a whole number of small petals….

So, some finished pictures of the dress on me! More on the ball itself in a next post!

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A corset for the late 1830’s (sort of)

When I started my 1830s project (which up to now just consisted of a petticoat), I knew I also wanted a new corset.

I’ve got a somewhat slimmer corset which I’ve used for my 1870’s dress, and a curvier one for the 1880s. And I’ve got a pair of regency short stays, which actually act more like stays in that they ‘lift’ more than ‘separate’. For the 1830’s, the goal is a high, still slightly separated bust, though not as high as regency.

Most ‘typical’ 1830’s corsets are transitional, meaning that they are somewhere between the soft, cupped, corded regency stays, and the more waist-defining corsets of the 1840’s.

Something between these:

regency long stay

Kyoto costume insititute

And this:

Corset, dated "1839–41," American or European. Medium: silk. Met # C.I.38.23.10b–d. Ten views available. An early strapless design.

MET museum, 1839-1840

 

This was a very transitional period, so you get a lot of different styles which are a bit difficult to date. Many original pieces are dated something like ‘1815-1840’, so quite a long range.

Somewhere in the 1830’s, corsets start losing their straps, and gain a defined waist. This one is a nice example of the transition:

An incredible original 1830s ladys ivory sateen corset with its original blue steel busk in its front pocket. Elaborately hand quilted and embroidered, top stitch reinforced, with woven braces tied in place, and at the busk pocket. A drawstring cord at the top front and early ringed brass eyelets at the lace up back closure.

 

In the end, I decided to base my corset on the ca. 1840 example from the MET shown above. I did not want straps, as they can show underneath a dress. And I wanted to, ideally, be able to wear this corset for 1840’s, and possibly 1850’s stuff as well. The main difference is the waist definition which gets more pronounced, but a more pronounced waist is not a problem for an 1830s dress. The only other thing which slightly changes  is that the bust drops a little, but given my shape that would not really be noticeable. I also wanted a defined hip-spring, as I need a large difference between waist and hips naturally, so the more ‘straight’ shapes wouldn’t work very well on me in any case.

I chose to make one more concession to accuracy for practicality reasons. In the late 1830’s, all corsets had a wooden busk, and spiral lacing. The split busk was invented in the 1850’s, and with it came the ‘typical’ straight lacing you see on corsets to today. The split busk makes it a lot easier and quicker to get into a corset by yourself, so I decided to add one.

Technically, this makes my corset more like the 1850’s and early 1860’s styles, which are actually cut very similarly, but with a split busk.

Like this one, which has the same wide hip panel:

Corset, 1864  The Victoria & Albert Museum

1850’s, V&A

 

The 1840 one from the MET does not have bust gores, which is actually quite unusual for the time, I think. However, I definitely don’t need them (they’re mostly handy for larger busts), so that was not an issue. And I really like the ‘hip’ panel, as that gives a lot of room for a large hip spring. A final advantage was that this piece was photographed really well, so I could actually see where the seams were, and figure out what the panels should sort of look like.

Met 1840 corset lines 1

Drawing lines on seams.

 

I ended up drawing the pattern from what I saw shape wise, and then made a number of mock-ups to actually make it work for my body. It took some trial and error, and no very systematic process was followed, but I ended up with something workable.

For construction, I used two layers, one cotton canvas and one plain cotton. I first inserted the busk, and then attached both lining and canvas layer of the second piece to the first, at the same time. By laying the canvas layer on the canvas layer (right sides together), and the lining to the lining (right sides together), and then stitching the seam in one go, you get the seams ‘within’ the corset. This gives a clean finish, and provides extra layers as strength for the boning. I think this was also the way the original was finished, as it shows the same clean interior, and the top-stitching, although I cannot be sure from pictures alone. In any case, it worked!

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Finished insides

 

I opted to cut the hip panel on the bias, to give some flexibility there, and just to experiment. I tried to see the grain on the original, but the weave of the fabric makes it impossible to see despite the high resolution. It does pull a bit, creating a bit of a wrinkle, so I’m not fully sold on this method yet, but otherwise it works.

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It’s very curvy when just taking it off the body!

 

I did not really take many construction pictures, as the corset was made during quite a busy time, with low light in the evenings, but I’m actually quite happy with how long it took me to make. It’s boned on the seams with synthetic whalebone, plus two bones in the side/hip panel all the way down, and extra bones in the back, as in the original. I’ve got one steel bone to support the eyelets center back.

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Diagonal bones in the back, and extra bone casing on the inside

 

It’s quite curvy, which is something I’m really happy about. I feel like this might be the first corset I made where I didn’t have too little room in the hips/bust in the end. I tend to underestimate the hip spring I need because I need to always increase this, and I tend to overestimate how much I need to take in the bust. But a corset works best if it actually leaves room at the top and bottom, and only reduces in the waist. This corset actually does that, which is nice!

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A gore at the back to allow room for the hips

 

It’s not the prettiest thing I’ve ever made, being of quite utilitarian fabric, but it works, and the shape is good. I might floss it at some point in the future, but for now, it’s time to start looking towards actually making a dress to go on top! (Which, if you’ve been following my instagram, you’ve already seen some peaks of. It’s looking good so far!

Some pictures of the corset on me!

 

1780s Silver round gown

I posted about the bodice of this gown before, but it’s now officially done!

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This was my big project for this year. A completely hand-sewn 18th century dress, out of silver silk.

It was my first foray into 18th century dressmaking, and I used the American Duchess book as a guide. The pattern is strongly based on the Italian gown in the book. I made some slight alterations to the back neckline, and to make it fit me. To turn it into a round gown, I simply added an extra skirt panel center front.

The bodice construction was done as described in the book (blog post here), and also the main reason I wished to do this by hand, as it’s not quite possible to follow the same techniques when sewing by machine. For instance with the shoulder piece, which is attached to the outside.

 

The skirt was fairly straight-forward, just 3 panels of 150cm wide, with slits on either side of the front panel and pleated at the top.

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Pleating the back skirt, here basted together with red thread. I basted both a couple of cm above and below where the bodice would be attached, so the pleats would stay properly in place when attaching it to the bodice.

 

The skirt was attached to the bodice by top-stitching through all layers from the outside. I then removed the visible basting at the bottom

 

The front panel is attached to a waistband which is tied around the waist before putting on the bodice, while the back panels are stitched to the dress.

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The top of the front panel of the skirt, attached to a waistband

 

Spot the hem! The hem seen from outside (left) and inside (right)

 

The dress is currently untrimmed, and so relatively simple on it’s own. To complete the outfit, I planned to have a sash, fichu and a hat.

The sash was simply a vintage blue ribbon, and the fichu a triangle of very thin white cotton, which I hemmed by hand.

The hat was more work, and the biggest hat I’ve ever made. I based the proportions on a portrait, drawing lines through the face and hat to see how wide the hat was relatively to the head.

One of my main inspirations, and the one I used for scale, is this portrait. Her hair is deceptively wide, just look how it extends almost as far on either side as her head is wide. The hair definitely makes the hat look ‘not quite as huge’.

Portrait of Susanna Gyll by John Hoppner.

 

I’ve long admired the hats made by the Modern Mantua maker, and she really inspired me to look at fashion plates for hat options. In the end, I settled on stripes at the bottom of the brim, and ribbons and bows around the crown.

This fashion plate was one of my main inspirations:

Hats from 1787.

 

I didn’t have striped fabric, and not too much of my base fabric (the dark grey). So I got some paler ribbon, and cut strips of the fabric, and stitched those together to form the covering for the bottom of the crown. I finished the hat by adding two ribbons around the crown with little bows. My method was a bit of a mix-up between the one from the Modern Mantua maker, and from the 1790s hat in the American Duchess guide to 18th century sewing.

 

To finish the full ensemble, I styled a wig. I have very long, quite thin hair, and the idea of untangling it after doing a hedgehog style was slightly terrifying. So wig it was. When I wore it, I curled the front of my hair and blended that into the wig, which worked quite well. The hat really needs the huge hairstyle to give some proportion to it, and I’m quite happy how it worked out!

 

This dress will have a second outing in November, for a ball this time. I have some beautiful antique cotton lace, which I plan to use to trim the neckline and sleeves. Stay tuned for version nr. 2 in a bit over a month!

For now, pictures of the whole thing worn!

The dress from the back and sides.

 

With the sash:

 

And some portraits of with the hat!

 

Round gown – bodice progress

My past couple of post have been about undergarments for my 18th century project. At the same time I’ve been slowly progressing on the gown itself. I’m making a round gown, so with a full skirt, and aiming for 1780s.

My fabric is a light grey / silver silk. The pattern is somewhat old-fashioned for the 1780’s, which sees similar two-toned patterns, but which are generally more flower-like, and less baroque.

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Nevertheless, the pattern does have some more naturalistic elements. And given the penchant people had for re-using ‘older’ fabrics, I’m calling it plausible enough.

I started my patterning with the pattern for the Italian gown in the American Duchess Guide to 18th century dress making. My first mock-up was just exactly the pattern in the book, and that was already pretty close. In the end, the things I changed most were the angle of the shoulder strap, the height of the back, and the width of the strap. Below is the last mock-up.

 

After that, it was time for the scary part, cutting the fabric! Taking great care to match the pattern on all the pieces.

 

I’m sewing this dress by hand, which is why progress is relatively slow. It’s quite a suitable project for a first ‘all by hand dress’ though, as I’m not planning on adding much trim.

First up were the boning channels center back, and then constructing the back. On the back pieces all allowances were folded inward, and then all 4 layers were stitched together in one go.

 

Next up was attaching the front silk to the lining with small prick stitches. After that, I could fit again. My silk was a little less stretchy than my mock-up, so I had to let it out a bit on the side seams. (So definitely good that I did this fitting). I also took out the center-front line on each side, and re-did those as they weren’t really straight on the body after all.

 

Then it was time to sew the side seams. These were first sewn with the back silk piece and both lining pieces, allowance to the right side. The front silk piece was then folded over and in, and prick-stitched. I actually did the second seam the wrong way first time, including the front silk instead of the back…  So I ripped it out and re-did it. A bit more painful than when the seam is sewn by machine, but if I’m going to do this by hand, I’m going to do it right…

All seams are sewn with grey silk thread (if only because it’s easier to source than linen). Some close-ups of the insides. From left to right: the back seam, side seam, and center-front.

 

Final thing to do was to sew the front strap lining to the bodice. This is what it looks like now. The shoulder strap in silk will be one of the last things, sewn in place after the sleeve is in. I’m currently working on the skirts first though.

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A new petticoat – and a note on red-white chintz

As mentioned in my last post, I wanted more petticoats for my 1780s dress. I know from ladies in more regional dress in the 18th century (which followed fashion quite closely), that they probably wore at least 4 petticoats 1. As I can’t really imagine fashionable ladies wearing fewer, I’d ideally have 4 for my ensemble as well. One plain linen bottom one, underneath the false rump. One simple linen one as first one over the rump, one striped linen or wool one over the rump, and a final, prettier, printed cotton one as top ‘under’ petticoat. The top petticoat was usually the prettiest, as that one might show when lifting up the skirt.

When writing the last post, I had one grey linen petticoat, which I’ll be wearing right on top of the rump. Now, I’ve also added the final, printed cotton petticoat to the list!

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It’s made the same way as my grey linen petticoat, following this tutorial.  Basically, you take a two big rectangles and sew them together on the sides leaving open a slit at the top. You then fold down the top so the hem will even out over a rump (longer in the back), and them the bottom. Then the top is pleated so each side is a little larger than the waist measurement, and you add a waistband and ties. Very simple, and nice for a quick side project, especially if you cheat and sew it by machine as I did.

 

My petticoat is made of cotton, printed with red flowers. If it looks familiar, that might be right, as it’s made from one of the new Ikea duvets.

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In the costuming community, Ikea is known for some fabrics which are based on 18th century textiles. As such, they’re actually reasonably historically accurate, though sometimes colors are slightly off, and not all of them are equally good. Plus side is also that they’re very easy to get a hold of, and often relatively cheap!

This particular line is new, and is a two-color design. The flowers are quite small, and there’s a fair bit of white space which makes it most suitable for later 18th century styles.

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The color way is what makes this a little bit unusual as a chintz reproduction. By far most chintz is multi-colored. Two-tone designs are quite a bit rarer. If there are two colors, it’s either white-black, black-white, white-blue, or white red. The white-black and blue-white combinations were often worn for mourning, especially in regional costume.

Wentke from Hindeloopen for light mourning. Cotton painted in India, 1750-1800.

Wentke (from Hindeloopen) for light mourning, in white and blue. Fries museum

The red-white chintz is often called ‘milk and blood’ in Dutch. You see it most often in the costume of Hindeloopen, where it was used specifically for bridal clothing.

Bridal Wentke from Hindeloopen. Zuiderzeemuseum.

 

Although a bit rarer, you do see ‘fashionable’ dress in white and red as well. This jacket is a very nice example.

 

Jak met lange mouwen in sits met rode bloemenranken (zogenaamd melk en bloed sits); model met maagstuk, ellebooglange mouwen en brede schootpanden die in plooien vastgenaaid zijn; sluit midden voor met koperen haken en ogen; voering in wit linnenHet maagstuk is een beetje uitgelaten bovenaan. Het sits bestaat uit niet op rapport aan elkaar genaaide fragmenten; waarschijnlijk alle van hetzelfde patroon. Het rechtervoorpand bestaat uit 12 stukken; het linker voorpand uit 10 stukken (mogelijk in beide meer stukken in de dichtgenaaide plooien. De rechterschouderpand bestaat uit 2 stukken; de rugpand heeft 7 stukken. In veel fragmenten zijn oude naaisporen die wijzen op herbruik. De voering bestaat uit stukken van verschillende witte linnenweefsels.

MoMu Antwerpen

 

All in all, the fabric is pretty close to historical, and a nice choice for a petticoat which might show on occasion!

Fries museum. Petticoat with red flowers.

Coupon of chintz, blue flowers on white ground, with the VOC (East-Indian Trading company) stamp showing. The VOC first brought Indian chintz to the Netherlands

Chintz from the Fries museum, looking quite similar to the little Ikea flowers!

 

1. [Source: Aangekleed gaat uit, streekkleding en cultuur in Noord-Holland 1750-1900.  M. Havermans-Dikstaal, 1999]

False rump – 1780s

Aside from stays, my 1780s round gown will need some more undergarments. A shift, false rump, and at least two petticoats. I’ve got the grey linen petticoat I wore under my 1660s gown, but the rest still required making.

As of this weekend, however, I now also have a false rump. As this fashion plate shows, skirts grew round later in the century, and could be quite big.

Cabinet des Modes ou les Modes Nouvelles, 1 août 1786, Pl. I, A.B. Duhamel, Buisson, 1786

Rijksmuseum, 1786

 

A shape like this requires a little more help than just petticoats (although those are definitely crucial as well!). Enter: the false bum. Whereas the typical wide silhouette of the 18th century was mostly achieved through hoops, this round shape was probably the result of strategically shaped ‘pillows’.

I haven’t been able to find any existant examples of 18th century false rumps, but there’s a number of descriptions of them. Moreover, we have a couple of delightful satiric prints such as this one:

The Bum Shop, published by S.W.Fores, London, 1785. The British Museum. via 2NHG

This prent is wonderful, as it also gives shapes. The size is very probably ofer the top, but it does show several different types of false rumps.

For my 1780’s dress, I wanted what is termed a ‘split rump’, so one with a bit of a ‘gap’ in the middle. This gap allows the typical low back point of the 1780’s fitted back dresses to lie nicely against the body.

1776 dress with low point in the back, MET museum

 

I know of this type of false rump thanks to the American Duchess guide to 18th century dress making (book), which includes the pattern for one in their chapter on the Italian gown. However, in their version the two ‘cushions’ lie rather far apart, allowing the skirt to ‘dip’ between them a relatively far down. I wanted my split rump to be just a little more subtle, which is purely a case of personal preference.

So I took inspiration from the satirical prent above, and slightly adapted the AD pattern to be a bit more ’round’, so the edges touch more. The split rumps at the top row on the satirical plate were the shape I was going for. I kept the ‘skirt’ beneath the cushions as in the AD book, and also followed their instructions for making it up (I sewed it by machine though, and filled it with modern stuffing). I also made sure that though I changed the shape and size of the cushions, the total hip circumference is the same as adviced, which was 2x the waist measurement.

My pattern is both a bit longer, and wider than the original. To make sure the shape wouldn’t become too big, I made two stitching lines in each pillow, limiting how much stuffing could go in.

Before stuffing:

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And the finished thing! As you can see, there’s a small gap between the pillows, but it is quite subtle.

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One side:

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And what it looks like with a petticoat on top! I’ll want at least one more, and then the dress will go over as well. This will round it off a bit more.

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And what it looks like from the side and front!

 

Green skirts

I haven’t been sewing too much in the last weeks. With my stays finished, I have new things I want to start, yet the beginning of a project always takes a bit more energy. Pattern drafting especially is not something I feel like doing after work, while hand-sewing is perfect. That means projects get finished if I’m busy, but they don’t get started.

Anyway, I did visit a fabric market last Friday, and bought fabric for 2 new unplanned skirts. Skirts are my go-to project when I want to make something quick yet rewarding. I don’t have to think about them too much and they’re done within a couple of hours, yet I do get quite some wear out of them. So perfect for when I’m in a bit of a sewing lull.

Plus, they’re both green, which fits perfectly as I finished both yesterday, on St. Patrick’s day!

The first is made of a (non-wool) green/blue plaid fabric. I have 2 skirts in a similar type fabric (different colors), and wear them a lot, so this is a good addition.

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I made a circle out of this one, as it drapes quite nicely.

 

The other fabric is a wool mix (about 60% I believe), and a gorgeous light green. It’s not a flat color either, but has wonderful richness in tone.

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I had a 1,20 by 1,50 piece (remnant), so decided to make a gathered skirt as a circle would be a bit short. Cutting it in half gave me 2 75cm/150cm pieces, and tacked together it became 75×300. I cut the waistband from the side, leaving me with about 4 times my waist measurement (280cm). I pleated it up in stacked box pleats, overlapping them slightly in some places to use up all the width. (I finished these second, when the light was gone, hence the grainier pictures).

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Both skirts have a waistband and zipper. The green wool I hemmed by hand for a nice clean finish.

 

Next weekend I have some more time, so hopefully that’ll get me back to the historical projects I want to start!

Late 18th century stays

I finished my first piece for an 18th century wardrobe last weekend. Green linen front-lacing stays.

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This also means I finally have some sewing which fits in with the Historical Sew Monthly again, as the theme for Febuary is Under! So the stats:

The Challenge: Under
Material: Green & plain colored linen, leather chamois for binding
Pattern: American Duchess Simplicity front-lacing stays
Year: (the year the item represents, not the year you made it) ca. 1780s
Notions: Synthethic whalebone boning & twill tape
How historically accurate is it? Reasonably. Materials are pretty close, synthethic whalebone is obviously synthethic, but close to whalebone in behavior. The boning channels were stitched by machine, as were the seams between panels. Everything else was hand-sewn.
Hours to complete: I’m very bad at keeping track…
First worn: Today, for pictures
Total cost: Most of the materials were already in stash, so no clue…

The story & construction:

Somewhere last year I got the Simplicity patterns from their first collaboration with American Duchess. Not for any specific project, but they were on sale at that time and I figured they might come in handy at some point.

Simplicity Pattern 8162 Misses' 18th Century Undergarments

I particularly liked that they included front-lacing stays, which is convenient when one needs to dress oneself. After I made my green medieval kirtle, I had some green linen left, and decided green stays would be a nice plan.

They’re rarer than some other colors, but they definitely do exist. The only disadvantage of my green linen is that it does stain a bit, so the inside of my future 18th century clothes might turn somewhat green. I’m not too bothered by that to be honest, the outside will be fine anyway.

 

Corset Date: ca. 1780 Culture: American Medium: wool, leather, linen, reeds Dimensions: Length at CF: 14 1/4 in. (36.2 cm) Credit Line: Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of the Brooklyn Museum, 2009; Gift of E. A. Meister, 1950 Accession Number: 2009.300.3100a, b

Ca. 1780 green wool stays, from the MET

 

I did the mock-up and main construction of my stays somewhere last year before the summer. They then got put on hold a bit, as I had absolutely no plans for an 18th century outfit yet, and I did have other stuff I wanted to make and also wear first.

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Planning out the boning channels

 

After the summer, I very briefly picked up the project again to do some embroidery. I was inspired by a couple of different stays which have some ‘swirly’-type embroidery on them, which I thought was very interesting. I have no idea how common this embroidery actually was, or if it was a regional thing (northern European?), but I decided to go with it.

My main inspirations were this pair for the ‘waves’:

Cotton corset (with wood  boning) 1780s–90s, European - in the Metropolitan Museum of Art costume collections. (Would be relatively easy to take a pattern from this photo!)

European, 1780s–90s, MET museum

And this one for the little ‘leafs’ on the back:

Stays - norway Fun embroidery in the back

Norwegian, from the Glomdalsmuseet

 

My interpretation:

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Swirlies on the front, leaf style in the back, both between the boning channels

 

After the embroidery, the project got put on hold again, this time for the 1660s and 1880s ensembles. Beginning of this year, after I finished my 17th century shift, it was finally time to go back to them!

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I used German synthetic whalebone.

 

I sewed in facings for the eyelets, and then the eyelets themselves. After that I covered the seams with narrow tape.

 

At this point, it was time for binding! I used leather chamois (from the local supermarket), which worked really well! A thimble was definitely good to have, but no pliers necessary and the chamois curved and stretched nicely.

 

 

 

The final step was lining the whole thing. I’m often a bit too lazy to pretty up the insides, but I hope this will increase their longevity!

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For straps, I decided to take inspiration from the new American Duchess stays pattern. It uses twill tape straps, which cross in the back and attach to hooks in the front, inspired by this original:

Stays, 1785-90, M969X.26

1785-1790. (c) McCord Museum. (And look: more twirlies!)

 

This method held appeal for several reasons. It helps you hold your shoulders back, which I can use some help with. It also gives a relatively narrow strap which lies wide on the shoulder (to the outside), good for not poking out under necklines, and it’s very easily adjustable.

I tea-dyed the tapes first, as they were bright white at first. Left original, right dyed version.

 

This is what they look like completed!

 

Some details

 

The only disadvantage of the straps is that they partly cover up the back embroidery. Ah well.

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To finish up, some more pictures of the stays on me!

In retrospect, they are just a little short on me. I didn’t make a boned mock-up, so that’s entirely my own fault. I did learn later this pattern runs a little short in general (too late, obviously), so if you’re also working on it that’s good to double check.

All in all, I’m not too bothered by it, as the shift keeps stuff in place well enough in my case.

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Pattern weights

Last September I visited Scotland, in particular the islands of Mull and Skye. Of course, Scotland is renowned for it’s wool, so when I saw a sign ‘Wool mill’ along the road on Mull, I followed it. Around the corner, along the road, down another turn, way down the road again, but eventually I did indeed find the Ardalanish wool mill.

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Pretty Mull

 

There were two main buildings to visit, one where the weaving happened and one with the shop. I first spend quite some time with the lady working on fabrics. She was checking one of the wool pieces for snapped threads, which were than woven back in by hand. They had tree old weaving looms in the space, and she told me a lot about their process, which was very interesting. This mill is on an estate, using the wool from their own sheep, as well as other wool from the island. They do most of the process in-house (all except spinning I believe), including any dyeing, which is done with home-grown natural dyes.

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I didn’t take any pictures of the mill, so some more pictures of sheep instead. As many Scottish islands, Mull has a lot of sheep.

 

Of course, after that I also had a good browse through their little shop. Aside from the fabrics, they also sold wool yarn and loads of little and bigger things made from their products. Scarfs, blankets, mitts, etc. In the end though, I bought a little package of fabric scraps. These were left-over from the things that ended up in the shop, and this allowed me to buy a range of little fabric scraps from different tweeds.

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I kept them in my closet for a while, but last week I stumbled along a tutorial for pattern weights, and thought this would be a perfect use for them! Something you actually use, for which you need only a very small amount of fabric.

There are loads of tutorials for pattern weights, I followed this one.

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I had to piece some scraps to get them in the right shapes, but that worked out fine. I also kept some of the selvedge markings, as I thought that added a nice touch about the origin of the fabric (and some scraps would’ve been to small without). Two weights are also a little smaller than the others due to fabric size, which works out okay for smaller pattern pieces.

After that, the process was quite simple. I filled mine with rice, and then sewed shut the final opening by hand.

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And then they were done! I’m really happy with my new pattern weights, the fabrics are so beautiful, and they work very well together as a set.

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1660’s skirt & full ensemble pictures

The skirt for the 1660’s dress was quite a bit simpler to make than the bodice. The skirts of this period are basically rectangles pleated to fit a waistband, so no tricky patterning there. The main question was: how wide should my hem be?

I looked at some other costumers for information, as the book I based the bodice on didn’t have a matching skirt in it. Some very helpful blog posts were by the Dreamstress, Before the Automobile and Demode. From their research I found that skirts are typically between 115″ and 150″ wide, so between 2,9m and 3,8m. My problem now was that I wanted to use full widths of my fabric, and have a very full skirt. With 1,5m wide fabric, that meant choosing between a 3m or 4,5m wide hem. The 3m would probably be more historically accurate, but with my very fancy gold fabric, I didn’t want to have a relatively narrow skirt. So in the end, I went with a 4,5m wide hem. A little wide, but the fabric is quite lightweight for the period, so it doesn’t look too much to my eye.

After sewing the 3 skirt panels together, leaving a slit center back, it was time for pleating. There’s some debate on whether skirts of this period are cartridge pleated, or knife pleated. I believe the main consensus is that they’re probably very wide cartridge pleats, folded to one side so they look like knife pleats. The extra threads of the cartridge pleating hold them in place though.

I opted for slightly narrower pleats, mostly because I had to fit 4,5m to my waistband, which was quite a lot. The cartridge stitches are 1cm wide, and I made 4 rows to about 10cm deep. I cheated slightly on the markings, and omitted those. Instead, I marked my finger and then stitched the next rows in the same place by eye. Not quite as neat as marking, but a lot less work.

Black marks the width, red the height for the first row.

 

Pulling the pleats in is one of the fun bits!

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I first bound the inside of the pleats to a piece of linen tape, to hold them in place. After that the waistband was stitched on, pushing the pleats to lie (somewhat) flat towards the back.

The inside, with tape to keep the pleats in place (left), and stitching the waistband on (right)

 

The hem was faced with grey linen I had in my stash.

I have one little pieced bit of hem on my skirt, underneath the lace. This was a measuring mistake on my part, where I thought I could cut more than I could in reality. I started with two coupons of 3m of fabric, and with piecing I could leave myself with one piece of about 2m, instead of two pieces of 1m. So I chose to mend the little ‘gap’, and as it’s underneath the lace, it barely shows.

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The top part of the lace in this picture will be the hem, so all of the piecing is covered in the end.

 

All the lace was stitched on first, and then the hem facing and waistband were added. The stitching only shows on the inside where there’s a single layer of fabric. I used the same netting as for the bodice, and the scalloped trim I also put on the sleeves. The other (prettier) scalloping I used on the bodice I only had a little off, so barely enough for the bodice alone. But despite the different laces, I think it works pretty well!

There are 6 ties on the inside. 2 are actually near the front, on the sides of the ‘flat’ piece. This is the only part of the skirt to go under the bodice, and in this way you can tie that part in place, then put on the bodice, and afterwards tie the rest of the skirt. I got the idea from Demode’s blog, who in turn looked at these pictures of the Bath dress, taken by Cathy Hay. (This is why I love the online community). The other 4 ties are in the back, I made 4 so the back might overlap a bit (difficult with 2 ties center back).

Above: putting the front ties on, below is a look from the inside of the skirt.

 

I also made a bum roll to go underneath, and a grey linen petticoat, following this great tutorial. The grey linen was originally intended for something medieval, but no concrete plans. So I used most for the petticoat, and the rest to bind the hem of the skirt. Stashbusting!

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The bum roll, it’s almost a croissant!

 

The skirt finishes off the look! So some pictures of the whole dress, only lacking a chemise now.

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More pictures!

And some details