Victorian Drawers

Aside from a chemise, corset, bustle and petticoat, a lady in the 1870’s would’ve also worn a pair of split drawers. Called that because they’re split in the center. Slightly odd to modern eyes, but very convenient when using the toilet in a corset & bustle dress. (This great video by Prior Attire shows the process 😉 )

So a pair of drawers was still on my todo list for ‘one day’. I finished my dress & mantelet a couple days into Christmas holidays, with a couple of days to go without any plans. So I decided to make these up! I couldn’t find a pattern, so I drafted one myself. One of my inspirations for the trim: (fromt he MET)

1863 drawers, according to Met Museum (no explanation of specificity of dating, though).:

 

These were my sketches (apologies for the phone quality). Top right initial drawing. Right sketch of the pattern, not to scale. Bottom left pattern to scale (every square is 5cm). Basically each ‘leg’ is cut on the fold, top edge being half of the waist measurement. (folded double, so one waist measurement per leg… If that still makes sense).  The leg is sewn shut from the bottom to the line, from which it’s left open to create the split. The double line at the right of the pattern are front & back, I figured I could use a little more room in the back. In the end, I left the split go even lower and ‘shaved’ a bit off the corner you see in the back line. I ended up doing pintucks in this part of the pattern, but attached an extra part for the ruching and lace so they’re slightly longer than seen on the pattern. The waistband is a simple wide strip folded over, with darts on both sides to shape it a little.

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The finished drawers, front view.

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And from the back. Not much different…

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For the trim I made 2 pintucks in the leg. Then I cut a strip about 2 times as wide as the legs and gathered them on both sides. After sewing those on, I added a strip of lace I had left from my Edwardian petticoat. All done!

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Victorian chemise

The most important undergarments for my 1870’s dress were the corset and bustle. Those are the items which give shape and form the silhouette. But they’re not everything that would’ve been worn. For that, a chemise and drawers are also necessary. And a corset-cover and additional petticoat also wouldn’t hurt.

So when I wanted a quick and easy side project next to working on my 1870’s evening bodice, I made a chemise! I showed my corset over my Edwardian chemise, and that will not work under an evening bodice as the neckline is too high. For this chemise, I needed a low neckline. I also wanted something that would work not only for the 1870’s, but also the 1880’s. That meant a chemise with straps but no sleeves, as many 1880’s evening dresses were sleeveless. I settled on a free online 1889 historical pattern. It’s a bit late, but chemises didn’t change too much, so I’m just assuming it’s plausible. (Also, this pattern is very simple, which was a big plus for an easy side project.)

As a chemise is a very good project to start with historical costuming, I figured a full write-up of how I made mine might be useful. A slight side-note, I don’t know if this method is 100% historically correct. It is pretty much the same as is advised in the TV Edwardian chemise pattern though. If you’re less interested in the process, scroll down to the bottom for the finished product.

The first thing I did was adapting the pattern. I only used the pattern for the general shape. Front and back are the same, so that’s already easy. I then pulled a simple shift-dress from my closet and used this to trace the dimensions. Where the strap would be, etc. I added width for the neckline as it would be gathered. From this pattern, I made a mock-up out of an old sheet. I pinned it together and gathered the top to check the fit. My mock-ups are generally ugly, but functional.

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This was just the top, to save fabric. I only ended up shifting the straps to a slight tilt so they would lie a bit off-shoulder. I re-drew my full pattern on pattern paper first. Then I pinned it to my fabric on the fold. I cut out the pattern twice with room for the seam allowances. The ruler is for scale.

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I always trace my pattern in chalk if I don’t have a seam allowance, as here. The little part is the extended strap.

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I used French seams, which means you make the seam twice and catch the raw edges inside. It gives for a nice clean finish and a sturdy garment. To start, I pinned the two pieces together wrong sides together, as well as pinning the straps. This will mean the first seam will be on the outside, as is the goal with a French seam.

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Next up, sewing! You should sew a little away from your chalk line here. How far depends on how wide you want your seams. I was stupid and forgot this, and sewed on the line, but I’d advice 0,5 or 1 cm.

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The next step is ironing. So important for sewing! This is what the seam looks like before pressing.

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You press the seam open.

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To get this! (sorry for the blurry photo)

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Time to trim the seam allowances. They should be smaller than your seam width, or the distance you sewed away from your line initially. (As I stupidly sewed on my line, I cut them off to be very small).

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Turning the whole thing inside out, pin the seams again. I made sure my pins were just outside of where the raw edges were on the inside.

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Time to sew!

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And press. Before:

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And after. This time you can’t press the allowance open (as it’s caught inside). So I just pressed from the right side.

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I now trimmed the neckline and armhole to about 1 cm away from my chalk line. These will have a very narrow seam. I could’ve done this when initially cutting out, but didn’t decide on the narrow seam until this point, and I always rather cut too much fabric than too little.

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I used a zig-zag stitch around the armholes and neckline first to prevent fraying.

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Next I folded over all edges and pinned in place. (again, blurryness, sorry!)

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And I sewed the hem around the neckline and edges!

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For the hem, I ironed the bottom over twice first.

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After pinning the hem in place for extra security, sewing time!

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This pattern works with a gathered neckline, so I made 2 rows of gathering stitches just below the neckline front and back.

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Pulling the thread, I gathered both pieces (front & back) to 23 cm. I decided I liked the look of the gathers as they were, so I left the tread in. To stop them from undoing, I made a knot in the threads of both stitches on every side.

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To secure the gathers, I went over them with a regular stitch, attempting to stitch in the middle of the gathering stitches.

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I had a little antique lace left-over from my Edwardian blouse, and it was just the right length to sew over the straps. I first pinned it on, folding over the raw edges on both sides.

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And then I sewed it in place20160904_190913

Almost done! I debated extra lace along the neckline or hem, but I quite liked the way it looked now. I also didn’t have lace which really matched the antique, so I decided to leave it plain (very non-Victorian by the way).

To finish off, I added little bows to mask the end of the lace on the straps.

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And finished (my dress form was being used by a bustle, two skirts and Victorian bodice in progress, and I was too lazy to remove them all to take this image. Hence the lying flat):

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Worn underneath my corset. I love how the little gathered ruffle looks on top of my corset. (Picture without bows, as they were added last)

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Bustle cage

When I started my 1870’s corset, it was mostly as a patterning exercise. But halfway through the patterning, I decided to start a new project, namely a 1870’s bustle dress! So I decided to fully finish the corset. Of course, I now also needed a bustle cage. I already had the pattern for the Truly Victorian 101 petticoat with wire bustle. It suited very well, as it’s a wire bustle with additional ruffle overlay so you don’t really need an extra petticoat. (Although it never hurts of course)

The pattern went together really well. It’s also remarkably light to wear, and it folds up really well. No problem moving and sitting at all, definitely reccomended.

I forgot to take any in-progress pictures except of the cut fabric.So instead, some images of the finished bustle!

From the front. My only mistake was making the waistband way too long and I didn’t want to unpick it, so I just fold it over till it fits.

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The back. Ruffles galore! I’m getting better at folded hems…

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And of course, the most important part, from the side! Really looking forward to making a dress to go on top of this! A post about the plans is coming soon.

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New Victorian Corset

As soon as I finish a corset I want to make a new one, nevermind that I don’t wear them all that much. My last underbust wasn’t any different, and I started playing with a new pattern almost right after finishing it.

This time I wanted to try adapting a historical pattern using a similar method I used to draft the underbust pattern. I looked at different historical patterns, and decided on a 1870’s Victorian pattern without any gussets. The lack of gussets would make it easier to scale with the method I was using (more about that later). The choice for Victorian was because at the moment, I only have a 1860’s corset. That was the second corset I ever made, and although it fits okay, I can’t lace it quite as tightly as I’d like if I’m wearing it all day. Additionally, its shape is good for 1860’s and early 1870’s, but a bit to ‘short’ for latter Victorian. The 1870’s pattern I picked is a little longer and should work for a slightly later period as well.

A slight comparison. On the left a corset from 1865 (De Gracieuse, Dutch), in the middle from 1876  (Le Moniteur De La Mode, France) and on the right from 1885 (B. Altman & co Catalogue, England). You can see how the left one is much shorter in length than the other two. As time progressed, the flare out from the hips started lower on the body, calling for a more longline corset. The 1876’s one shows the beginning of the natural form movement, with a sleek line. In 1885, the silhouette became curvier than ever, but still with a lower flare over the hips than in 1865.

corsets

While my current corset follows the 1865 shape closest, the new corset is modeled more after the 1876 example.

For pattern, I settled on this historical pattern:

Vintage Corset Pattern:

I then resized the pattern by drawing a digital line through the bust, waist and hip points. I took my own measurements, and first lengthened the pattern so that the distance between bust-waist-hip was the same as for my body. I then took the line through the pieces and adapted the shape of the panels so that the total width of the pattern would fit with my measurements. I merged the first and second panel from the center-front, because these have a straight seam anyway. If you want a full (with pictures) description of the type of method I used, here’s a tutorial. I didn’t follow this exactly, but used the same concept.

I took this pattern and made a mock-up, and made some further changes. Mostly I removed some width at the top of the back patterns, and added a little more to the hip flare. I cut down the length at the bottom front just a bit to be able to sit better, and added a little width on the top front of the left half of the pattern. I’m not 100% symmetrical… The eventual pattern I ended up with looks like this:

pattern 1870 corset

I decided to make the corset out of a white brocade coutil I had bought on sale with no specific plans in mind. I also decided on doing a little more decoration, namely cording at the front. I’ve seen examples of both vertical and horizontal cording, but settled on the horizontal inspired by this corset from the amazing Aristocrat: (seriously, if you don’t know her work, go check it out)

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In order to be able to make the cording, I flatlined the whole corset with white cotton. The busk was put in first. The two front pieces on both sides were corded before construction. After that, all the pieces were sewn together wrong sides together. This left the raw edges on the outside, to be covered with boning channels. I cut the boning channels from the same brocade coutil, ironed the edges to fold over and stitched these over the seam allowances to hide them. Next time, I think I’ll make the boning channels tubes instead of folded strips. In some places, the fold ‘folded back out’ when sewing them on, leaving the edge a little wobbly. Final steps were cutting and inserting the boning (flat steel around the grommets, spiral for the rest) and bind the edges in white cotton bias binding.

The finished corset, here shown over my Edwardian chemise because I don’t have a Victorian one. (And because it’ be quite scandalous without chemise, as it’s very solidly mid-bust, and not over-bust).  I now sort of need to make a chemise with the neckline sitting right above the edge of the corset.

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And lying flat. I love how the coutil makes it curve even off the body.

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A detail of the cording on the outside.

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And an interior picture. You can see that by constructing the panels right sides together, the inside gets a really clean finish.

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The cording on the inside. The only disadvantage of having the coutil as fashion fabric and cotton as lining is that with the cording, the cotton tends to wrap around the cord more than the coutil. So the relief is stronger on the inside. I suspect it’d work best with the thinner fabric on the outside. (Also, I think I’m getting better at hand-stitching, very pleased with the stitches sewing the binding on on the inside.)

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Simple Regency petticoat (+pattern)

My first project of the year is done, and it wasn’t even planned! I started work on the red/white regency dress (an update will follow soon), and while I was working I noticed the fabric was a bit sheer. No problem of course, that’s perfectly period, but it does require a petticoat beneath the dress.

Well, unless you’re portraying a very fancy French lady, in which case you might go for this look:

Louis Léopold Boilly, Incroyable et Merveilleuse in Paris, 1797

 

But that wasn’t exactly my plan, as I believe it was reserved for the very fashionable, and mainly worn in France. (Also, in the image above the man is trying to pay the lady as he supposes she’s a prostitute because of her clothes, she’s making the cross to ward him off).

I also had some fun looking at the caricatures of sheer dresses at the time. It definitely wasn’t for everyone.

 

Anyway, a petticoat it was! I’d originally bought cotton to line the dress, but afterwards found that generally, only the bodice of Regency dresses are lined and not the skirts. So there was plenty of fabric left to make a petticoat. Generally speaking, there’s two types of petticoats, namely those with bodice and those without. The petticoats without bodice usually do have straps, to keep the skirt up at the empire waistline.

A bodiced petticoat:

And one with straps:

I opted for the straps option, mostly because it was easiest. I made up the petticoat very quickly, and without any decoration, as it’s mostly so I can wear my dress when finished. It’s basically just a skirt pattern with some bias tape finishing the top, a slit in the side and 2 straps. I don’t know how accurate this construction is, but it works!

The front:

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Side:

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And back:

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The closure:

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As it’s so simple, I drew out the pattern I used for this. I made it to scale, if you click on it you should get the full scale version. 100 pixels is 10 cm. Some notes: My ’empire-waist circumference’ (under-bust measure) is about 75 cm, so the back panel ‘gathered to fit’ in this case means gathered to 75-55=20 cm. If you have a different circumference, you might want to scale up the width in both pattern pieces. The 110 cm in height is also for me, I’d strongly suggest measuring yourself for the height. Measure from your empire waist to where you want your petticoat to hang. I also put in 110 cm both for the front and back panel, but I suggest cutting the back slightly higher than the front, as you’ll be attatching the straight back side seam to a tilted front side seam which will be longer. I did this, and just cut off the exces after attaching the panels. For the straps, the length is also based on me, and I suspect will be different for everyone. Just put the petticoat on you, pin the straps to the back at the side of the panel and check the length in the front. The same goes for the position of the straps in the front. This depends on your empire waist circumference and cup-size probably. And, just in case, always fit over your stays! This way you can also check the placement of the straps to make sure they won’t show with a gown with a wide neckline. Finally, there’s no seam allowance in this pattern. I used the selvedge as hem and bias binding at the top, so I didn’t need an allowance at either. If you’re hemming the top and/or bottom, don’t forget to add this. Same goes for the side-seams. I measured the pattern after sewing, so no allowance included. Good luck!

Petticoat pattern

Edwardian Corset Cover

Next item done! To hide the corset ridge, a corset-cover was worn between the corset and outer garments. As I’m planning to make a sheer(ish) blouse, it seemed like a good plan to make a corset cover as well. It has ruffles, moreover, which helps achieving the pigeon-breast silhouette.

I used the Truly Victorian Edwardian undergarment pattern, it worked great! I made this up very quickly, and the instructions were great. Next-up: Drawers and petticoat!

Pictures!

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White cotton – Underwear

I had a productive weekend, and made 2 new (under) garments. One is a new petticoat for over my 1860’s hoop, the other an Edwardian shift.

I started with the petticoat. My old one was quite heavy and seemed to do some weird things with my hoop dimensions, compressing it. As it was also not very period correct, being made of black polyester, I decided to make a new one. The new one isn’t quite as full, as I only had 3 meters of fabric, but it should do the job.

It consists of 2 rectangles, the first gathered to the waistband and the second gathered to the first. I started with the first rectangle, and put it on my hoop to measure for length.

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I then drew a line along the 2nd full hoop (so not the half-circle ones). I sewed the bottom strip along this line, and actually ended up with a petticoat which is pretty even along the hem! It’s just a bit short, due to lack of fabric, but with a velvet over-skirt (which is quite heavy), that shouldn’t be a problem. If I’ll ever make a new skirt for over this hoop with less volume, I might need to make another petticoat as well though.

 

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The second thing I made was an Edwardian shift. I used the Truly Victorian Edwardian underwear pattern (top left is the shift):

Edwardian Underwear

 

 

I ended up skipping the lace along the arm holes, and just made a small seam there. It has lace along the neckline, and 4 pin-tucks in the front and 2 in the back. I pieced the back, because I was using left-over fabric and couldn’t fit the whole thing without a seam. I quite like it, there’s just something about white cotton, lacy underwear.

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Front

 

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Front-detail

 

 

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Back

 

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Back detail