Black & White lace

I’ve been quite busy working on several projects, but none are quite ready yet to be blogged about. (For progress pictures etc. see my instagram and facebook page). So for now, some more very pretty pictures. The topic was inspired by the last inspiration post, where I couldn’t include all of these.

Lace has been used for centuries, but the height of it’s popularity might be the turn of the 20th century. I adore these dresses, and would love to recreate them, but the cost of suitable lace is frighting, so instead I just admire. Although there were a lot of solid white and colored dresses with lace, this post would be too long if I included them all. So the theme will be black & white.

 

DressJeanne Paquin, 1902The Museum at FIT:

Jeanne Paquin, 1902, The Museum at FIT

 

Ball gown dress of Empress Alexandra Feodorovna. 1900-1901:

Dress of Empress Alexandra Feodorovna. 1900-1901

 

From the collection of Alexandre Vassiliev:

From the collection of Alexandre Vassiliev

 

From the collection of Alexandre Vassiliev:

From the collection of Alexandre Vassiliev

 

Half-Mourning Dress  1889-1892:

Half-Mourning Dress 1889-1892

 

Circa 1906 black silk and lace evening gown, Bonnaire, Paris.:

Circa 1906 black silk and lace evening gown, Bonnaire, Paris

 

Dress, Evening  Date: 1898–99 Culture: American:

Dress, Evening Date: 1898–99 Culture: American, MetMuseum

 

1900s evening dress:

Musée de la Mode

 

 

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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1870’s Mantelet

When my 1870’s ballgown was nearly done, I also started looking into making a quick cape or coat to go with it. I’ll be walking to the ball after all (no fancy carriage, alas), so a little something warm will be welcome. I also had a 1,5m by 1,5m wool coupon in my stash with no specific plans for it yet. It would be perfect for this plan!

So I started looking at capes and coats, and quickly found loads of original online patterns for different Victorian eras. It’s really nice to see the progress in shapes! Generally speaking, the 1860’s see large almost ‘sack’ like capes falling over crinolines. In the early 1870’s a type of mantelet with two long extensions in the front and a fitted back become popular. In the 1880’s, coats become more popular, being even more fitted and having sleeves more often. In the 1890’s you see the rise of short (waist-length) circle shaped capes.

The patterns I found for the 1870’s were these:

Der Bazar 1874: Springtime mantelet from black elastine fabric with black guipure-lace, grosgrain ribbons and atlas lining (also suitable for confirmands); 38a. front part, 38b. back part:

Der Bazar 1873: Springtime mantelet from black cashmere with black lace and silk-reps adornments; 23a. front part, 23b. back part:

Der Bazar 1874: Springtime mantelet from black cashmere with black lace and…:

Der Bazar 1873: Springtime mantelet from black elastine with black guipure-lace and grosgrain ribbon adornments; 24a. front part, 24b. back part:

All very similar in shape. I settled on the last one, because I liked the square bottom front and fitted back. (Also, even though it has nothing to do with the pattern, the bow at the back might have influenced me slightly 😉 ).

I slightly adapted the pattern to fit me, mostly the back was way too narrow and the front slightly too wide for me. I didn’t have a narrow neckline anymore after I was done with the adaptions, and decided to leave it as it was. So mine is slightly wider then the originals probably were.

These patterns have no instructions, so I just made it up in the way I thought easiest. First I assembled the wool fabric pieces. I then trimmed the edges using velvet and polyester ribbon. The polyester ribbon (obviously not historical, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen actual silk ribbon for sale) was pleated every 1,5cm. All 10m of it.. Suffice to say that took a while, it was a relaxing task though, and perfect for the start of the holidays. (Very obvious in this image, I tend to group pins by color…)

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After trimming, I lined the wool with cotton by sewing it together right sides together, leaving a little part to turn it inside out. That part was hand-sewn shut afterwards. To keep the back close to the body right before the ‘flare’, I sewed a cotton strip of fabric at that point which closes in the front. I don’t know if this is period, just something I thought convenient.

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It closes with a fancy closure at the top and little hooks and eyes to keep the front together.

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I also placed a velvet bow at the center back, inspired by the pattern picture.

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To finish, a couple of images of me wearing the mantelet over the ball gown.

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1870’s early bustle ballgown photos

Although I’ve already posted images of both the skirts and bodice of this dress, it needed one final finishing touch. The main colors of the dress are pale yellow and black, but I always planned to have some dark red roses as accents. With those done, it was time to finally get some images with the whole ensemble on! A more detailed description on how I made the roses is at the bottom.

The top of the bodice on the dress form, including rose.

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Wearing the full ensemble! From the front.

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And another one, if only to see the bodice point better. Extra roses worn in my hair!

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From the side.

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Moving towards the back.

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And from the center back. Small disclaimer: I put on the whole dress, including bodice, by myself. So it’s possible! Only I missed a hole when lacing, and it gapes a bit at the bottom. Luckily I’ll have help when I go to the ball in this.

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I really loved wearing this, if only for an hour for pictures. It feels very elegant, and the silk makes a wonderful sound. I doubted for a bit if I would actually make the roses, as it felt quite finished already without. I’m very happy I did though, it gives just that little extra touch. The whole ensemble also quite easy to move around and sit in, which is always a plus! I’m really looking forward to wearing this in Bath next may.

 

As for the flowers, I looked at various tutorials for making fabric roses, and eventually settled on a method using polyester fabric strips. The actual tutorial disappeared in the day between me making the flowers and writing this, so linking to that page is useless. I’ll try to describe the method as well as possible here, but as a disclaimer; I didn’t think this out for myself, someone else very generously shared this process online first.

This method only works with polyester fabric, as you need to melt the edges. Not historical, but polyester lining fabric (which is what I used) is a lot easier to source than silk anyway. It also gives such a pretty result that I wanted to try it out.

The first step is to cut strips of fabric. The original tutorial advised 45″ strips of 2″ to 3″ wide. My strips were therefore 110cm long and 7cm wide at the widest part. I cut the fabric in ‘waves’, making smaller waves in the last 15 to 20cm for the center of the rose. After cutting, I melted the edges. The bottom edge was molten just slightly to prevent fraying. The top was molten more to also shape the petals a bit more.

The strips are then gathered at the bottom and rolled around themselves while stitching it together at the bottom. I finished them by sewing a circle of felt to the bottom. I attached all roses to a clip so I can remove them from the dress if I want, and I made a couple extra to put in my hair.

Because I was planning to just refer to the original tutorial I didn’t take too many pictures, but here you can see the stages. Far left is cut and molten strip, middle is gathered strip, right finished roses.

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1870’s underskirt trim

While making the trim for my 1870’s dress, I also looked a lot at images of other underskirts of the period. There’s loads of different ways to trim the skirt, and although  skirts without any trim do exist, they seem quite rare. In fact, there are so many options available that I can imagine it’s difficult to pick how to trim a dress! In Dutch there’s a saying, that you ‘can’t see the forest through the trees’. Basically it means there’s so many options that you can’t clearly see any one choice clearly. So in this post I’ll give a brief description of different types of popular trim.

To illustrate how different trims were used in combination, I’ll be using pictures of existent 1870’s dresses. All of these are in the Metropolitan museum of Art. I’ve decided to only use this source, as it’s very extensive and many of the dresses are photographed in high resolution so close-ups of the trim are available.

Nearly all trim on bustle skirts is a combination of lace, fringe, fabric/ribbon strips, ruffles and pleats.

Lace

Lace existed in many forms and shapes, and would be made out of silk, linen or cotton. In the 1870’s, lace could already be made by machines although hand-made lace was still an industry as well. I’m not an expert on lace, so I won’t go too much into types and history here. From what I’ve seen, nearly all lace used on dresses was either a shade of white  (white to yellow-ish) or black.

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A skirt close-up. Rows of lace attached to ruffles of sheer fabric.

 

Fringe

Fringe is the type of trim Victorians loved but which doesn’t get used a lot today. It seems it’s just not that appealing to the modern eye. Fringe is mostly seen on the lower edge of the over-skirts, but it does also occasionally pop up on underskirts. Fringe can also be beaded, or consist of more adventurous shapes.

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An example of very pretty fringe, with tiny tassles and what looks like beads

 

Fabric/Ribbon strips

Contrasting strips of fabric or ribbon are often used to create (mostly horizontal) stripes. These strips can be turned over, used as bias tape or finished by bias strips themselves.

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Fabric strip decorations. You can see how they’re cut on the bias, the edges seem to be folded under.

 

Ruffles & Pleats

Ruffles & pleats are by far the most common way to decorate a skirt and come in a massive number of variations. A ruffle is a gathered strip of fabric, a pleat is folded. You get strips of ruffles, strips of pleats, folded pleats, or gathering on the whole fabric creating a smocked effect. Loads of different versions exist.

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Three rows of ruffles. The top one is gathered with multiple rows to create a smocked effect.

 

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Two rows of pleats. The top strip is frayed and box pleated, stitched down in the middle. The lower strip has spaced double box pleats. (and a row of lace at the bottom).

 

Some more examples, for inspiration. The dress below has a dark brown skirt with a lot of tiny pleats.

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In the close-up you can see that the top two rows of pleats have tiny folds in them. They seem to be knife pleats, stitched down at the top. The bottom has just 2, wider rows. The fabric in-between seems gathered down just a bit. There are some folds as well, but they’re very uneven, so I’d guess that this is just a result of the gathering. Might be that they originally had very shallow box pleats as well.

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Another one. A very dark blue one with light accents.

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In the close-up you see that black lace was used in a very clever way. A lighter strip of fabric was sewn on, with the lace overlay. Below are ruffles, slightly gathered. The ruffles are lined in the light fabric, being sewn in such a way it just shows around the edges.

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Another blue number

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This dress also has trim lined in a contrast fabric showing around the edges, similarly to the previous one. In this case the strip is knife pleated and then folded in the middle to create the zig-zag effect.

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A combination of a lot of different things! On the overskirt, a strip of lace covered in a strip of fabric. The underskirt has a wide strip of fabric, which seems to have been gathered near the top, in the middle and near the bottom. These gathers are covered by fabric strips. The slightly ‘poufy’ effect is probably created by placing the top and bottom gathers just a bit closer to the middle gather than necessary. The bottom part has short sections of knife pleats with unpleated bits in the middle.

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Another brown dress. There’s only a little bit of underskirt visible.

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In the close-up, you can see that a brown lace trim is used, with very small knife pleats underneath.

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A very classy dress. From this distance it’s difficult to see what’s going on.

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Close-up! You see that the main part of the skirt is gathered with five narrow rows of stitching. This create the smocked effect, and creates the gathers in the rest of the fabric. The bottom is ‘finished off’ with two rows of small knife pleats.

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To finish off, a white cotton dress.

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A close up shows that there are small rows of ruffles, with what seems like a knife pleated bottom part, stitched down at the bottom.

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1870’s ballgown bodice

After finishing the skirts for my 1870’s ballgown, it was time to continue with the bodice.

The pattern I used is the same as for my 1860’s velvet ballgown bodice. It still fitted correctly even with my new corset, so that was easy enough!

 

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I did make a mock-up first to check if the fit was still right. Pinning it center-front makes it a lot easier to fit on yourself!

 

The base of the bodice is silk with white cotton interfacing. All pattern pieces were flatlined first, cotton and silk stitched together along the edges.

After flatlining, main construction was pretty straightforward. Simply sew everything together and press open the seams. Two darts are sewn on each side in the front panels. These I left double (didn’t cut them open), because they’re pretty narrow.

 

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Inside view before the darts & shoulder seams are sewn.

 

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Trying it on my dress form after the main construction

 

The top, bottom & sleeve edges of the bodice are finished with piping. One row for the top and sleeves, two rows for the bottom.

To make the piping, I cut 2,5cm bias strips out of the silk fabric. Placing a cord inside & stitching next to the cord finished the piping.

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Drawing bias strips on the fabric. The ruler I still have left from high-school! The little marks I use to place on the previous line to measure the distance to the next line.

 

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Finished strip of piping

 

Applying it was done by stitching it to the right side of the fabric along the edge, the raw edge of the piping facing the edge of the bodice. For the second row, the process was repeated with a second strip closer to the edge. I tried to be careful to stitch as close to the cord as possible, and place the second row of piping as close to the first one as I could.

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Sewing the double row along the bottom edge. It didn’t center as well as I would’ve liked… I did cut the seam allowance of the piping strip right on the sharp point to help it a bit.

 

 

After stitching, I cut away most of the seam allowance, leaving only the top layer of piping seam allowance. The rest was cut to a couple of mm. The top edge was then folded to the inside twice and stitched down by hand over the seam allowance to make a neat inside finish. The double piping wasn’t perfect, at some places it gaped a little, In those places I made some little stitches to let the rows lie closer together. Especially along the point of the bodice this helped, as that’s the tricky spot due to the strong curve. All in all, I’m pretty pleased with how this turned out as it was a first attempt at double piping.

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Finishing the inside on the sleeves.

 

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After sewing down the allowance to the inside. Better centered, but there’s still a bit of gaping going on.

 

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Adding a couple of stitches helped bring the cords together!

 

The inside of the bodice was further finished by stitching down all seam allowances by hand. The typical flatlining construction of Victorian bodices leaves the allowances visible and stitching them down prevents fraying.

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Piping and general seam allowances stitched down.

 

After this, boning was put in. I used heavy duty cable ties. They’re a lot cheaper and lighter than steel, and a bodice doesn’t really need the extra strength steel gives when worn over a corset. I made cotton fabric tubes to place the boning in and sewed those down by hand. There are 7 bones in the bodice, center front, on the outter darts, side seams and center back. The bones in the center back were entered slightly differently as this was the edge, so I sewed a cotton strip right sides together to the center back sides and turned this over to the inside catching the bone. I don’t know if this is a period solution, but it worked okay.

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Sewing in the boning channels with boning inside.

 

Final step to finishing the base of the bodice was sewing the eyelets. The bodice laces in the back and has 12 eyelets on each side, spaced 2cm apart. The first one I sew is always a bit wonky, and they get more even as I go on. Practise makes perfect right?

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Eyelets in the back

 

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Back from the inside. Never mind the little dots, I got a bit off kilter when making a guide for the placement of the eyelets.

 

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The base lying flat, from the right side

 

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And from the inside

 

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Lying flat as it was meant, from the back. I really like how you can see the curve around the waistline.

The last step was trimming the bodice. I originally planned a pleated bertha, but with all the ruching and lace on the skirts I reconsidered. I had just enough of the broad lace to finish the top edge of the bodice in lace. Because I really wanted to let the lace return in the bodice, I chose this option. I had to piece the lace in 2 different places to get enough and had about 1cm left at the end. It’s a bit narrower in the back, mostly because placing it this way was easiest. I do like the effect this gives though. Because the lace only just fits, I also stitched it down on the center front point to avoid it riding up.

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Lying flat (sorry for the cropped point). It’s a bit difficult to see because of the dark background. Will get pictures on me in the future to show off the contrast better!

 

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Folding it correctly helps a little already

 

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From the back

 

I considered putting more trim on the bodice, but I can’t really think of anything that would both look good and retain the ruching/lace theme as seen on the skirts. So I think I’ll keep it like this.

The only thing which might still be added are flowers! My original design features dark red roses along the top skirt and bodice. I still need to pick the exact shade and make these, so that will be the finishing touch!

Bustle design

Bustle Skirts

Since my last post on my 1870’s dress, I’ve continued working on the skirts. In total the skirt consists of 3 garments, an underskirt, overskirt and separate train. The separate train isn’t really a typical thing for the 1870’s, most of the time the underskirt would be trained and could be bustled up. I wanted to be able to remove it completely though, so I decided on a separate train.

The underskirt was made with the Truly Victorian pattern TV201.

TV201 - 1870s Underskirt

It was a great pattern, very easy to put together. My only note would be to check the length you need before you cut. I ended up doing a white cotton hem facing so I only needed about 1 cm of skirt fabric to do the hem, but I also didn’t really have much more! I consider myself short, but I have to remember that’s by Dutch standards (I’m 1,67m). So if you’re average or taller, check if you don’t need to cut extra length on this pattern.

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The hem facing on the underskirt. It was machine-sewn to the bottom and finished by hand at the top.

Also, this pattern has a pocket option! To make it a bit more sturdy I made the main part of the pocket from cotton instead of the silk.

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Pocket from the inside.

From this same pattern, I also made an extra petticoat. Although my bustle has ruffles built in, the weight of the skirts and train warranted an extra layer. The only thing I did different was that my petticoat doesn’t have a pocket and I made ruffles for the petticoat.

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Ruffle

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A rolled hem on all the ruffles.

I made some pictures of my skirt over the bustle, with & without petticoat. These were taken before I trimmed the skirt, and really show the difference.

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With bustle cage underneath

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With bustle & petticoat underneath

 

The basic construction of the overskirt I patterned myself and already blogged about here. The only addition I made was black lace around the edges.

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The black lace on the edge of the overskirt

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From the inside.

The train I patterned myself as well. It’s basically a rectangle with a curved end, pleated on the top side to lay smoothly over the bustle.

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First stage of patterning, old sheets!

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The eventual pattern on paper. Every square is 5cm.

I didn’t want to add an extra waistband, so I’ll be attaching the train to the overskirt. The overskirt has ties on the inside from the bustle. In these ties I made small buttonholes near the top. The train has buttons at the top to attach it to the overskirt.

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Buttonhole in one of the bustle-up ties on the inside of the overskirt.

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The top of the train, with 3 buttonholes to attach to the ties. In the photo it just lies on top of the underskirt, that’s the waistband you see behind it.

Unlike the base and over-skirt, I did line the train. Because my fabric is super thin and light, I wanted a bit extra weight to make it fall properly. The whole train is lined in white cotton, the silk edges flipped over and sewed down by hand. The very top of the train is made of just white cotton, as this part won’t be seen anyway. It’s hidden beneath the overskirt.

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The finished train from the inside. The lining starts where the silk does on the outside,

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The top of the train from the inside. As the top of the lining was on the selfedge of the fabric I left it as is.

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The edge of the train. The silk was turned over twice on top of the cotton lining and sewed down by hand.

 

Next it was time for decoration! I used a very pretty black tule lace as main decoration. The lace was sewn to the train both near the top and at the bottom to make it stay flat. At the top I used black thread to blend with the lace, at the bottom pale yellow so it wouldn’t show if the train happens to flip over a bit. For the skirt it’s only attached at the top.

As the top of the lace is cut tule, I also wanted something to cover the top. I looked at various trimmings and eventually settled on this ruched design. I generally like pleated trims better, but they are very geometrical and in this case a more organic design fitted better with the lace. The added bonus is that this trim is relatively quick to make and takes relatively little fabric. Only about 2 times the finished width instead of 3 as for pleats.

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I made small bits of trim to check whether to do pleats or ruches. 

I debated whether I would hem or pink the edges of the trim. Pinking has the advantage of being much quicker and saving bulk, but hemming is more common. I eventually settled on pinking for practical reasons. Most Victorian pinking is shaped in half circles with small triangles. Modern pinking lacks the half circles, especially when using a scissor as I did. But I figured since the trim design leaves the edges slightly curved anyway it’ll barely be noticeable.

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Strips for trim cut with pinking scissors

For making the trim, I first cut strips and sewed them together. Next was measuring and drawing the seam lines. My strips were about 8 cm high, and the triangles have a bottom length of 8 cm as well. After drawing was sewing the gathering stitches. I ended up sewing per 3 lines, not wanting to gather huge pieces with 1 gathering string. Final step was gathering the trim. And, of course, sewing it on.

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Marking triangles. The cutting guide of lined pattern paper came in handy to measure every 8 cm

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Gathering stitches

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The finished trim. 

All in all, I sewed on about 10m of lace and 9m of trim (made from 18m of strips) by hand. For anyone who thinks sewing the dress together takes most time, not quite ;). The trim really does make the dress though.

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To finish up this post, some pictures of the different layers while worn! (Apologies for the weirdness of my chemise in the back… It’s not supposed to be that wonky)

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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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Early Bustle Ball gown

Last year in May, Izabella from Prior Attire organized a Victorian ball in Bath. I didn’t go, but I saw a lot of images of the event, and many gorgeous visitors. I decided at that point that it’d be worthwhile to put the event on my wish-list, just to see if it’d be possible to go one time. It would have to involve a holiday as I don’t actually live in the UK, but it’s always fun to dream.

Shortly after the ball, the theme for next year was announced, namely early bustle. Even though I had no concrete plans to go, I started looking at gowns from that period and eventually decided to just make one! There’s another ball a bit closer to home in January, so if I could manage to finish before then I’d be able to wear it anyway.

So a new project was started! I now have the corset and bustle/petticoat finished, and it’s time to start working on the dress.

When settling on what to make, I started with looking at ball-gowns from this period, namely 1870-1876. I found quite quickly that most are actually a bit too frilly for my taste. Most dresses I saw had some elements I didn’t like. Some had a lot. I quickly decided that the ruching you see a lot was not for me.

Something like this was a nope…

Le Monde Elégant 1870:

So instead, I went looking for what I did want, to see if I could incorporate this into one design. First up was color! I didn’t have too much choice, as I wanted to buy the fabric at an outlet. This made buying silk possible budget-wise, but given how much I’d need I would depend on stock. Almost all ball-gowns in fashion plates are white or pastel. The very occasional red or black appears, but pink and baby-blue were definitely popular. It’s a little too sweet for me though. So I decided to go for a light green/yellow/sand color if I could find it.

And that worked out! I bought a lovely thin but sturdy taffeta in a very pale yellow/lime color. It’s fairly difficult to photograph the color right, but this comes pretty close:

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On to the rest of the design! I knew I wanted a train, as almost all ballgowns seem to have one. It’s not always practical though, so I want a train I can bustle up or remove. This means having the train as an over-skirt so that I can either remove it or bustle it up by attaching ties on the inside, should be doable!

For the front and back overskirt, I decided to keep it simple. This’ll be my first time making a bustle, and I don’t want to make it too complicated for myself. So the bustle will be based on a pattern as shown in this video.

For the underskirt I don’t want a train, so I can wear the dress without one. Ideally with trim all the way around so the train can be removed. I’m not certain if I have enough fabric for a lot of pleating, so I settled on another type of trim. Lace! You see quite a lot of examples of sheer-ish black lace on top of light fabrics, something I really like. This brown dress is a nice example:

Le Monde Elégant 1870:

So, lace it is! I also decided that I want flowers. They’re so typical for the period, and can serve to bring a little color into the picture. I’m aiming for (dark)red.

For the bodice, I’m going for pleating, inspired by this image, although I’ll probably do the basic puff sleeve.

 

Although I haven’t got the lace and flowers I’ll eventually use, I pulled something from my stash just to look  at the color combinations.

 

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And with everything kept in mind, this is the initial design! I might change some things along the way, but this is the plan!

Bustle design

To finish off, shortly after I made the design image, I found this fashion plate. I love how the middle dress resembles my design. I might even go for the lace as bertha as well…

Godeys 1874: