1894 Petticoat

For my 1890s project I decided I want 2 new petticoats. I have an Edwardian petticoat which is too slim for 1895, but which is usable as a ‘bottom’ petticoat. The second petticoat would build the right shape, and the final petticoat I’m planning to make with the same pattern as the skirt and make in more fun fabric. That one is to really get to the wide shape of the period. This post is about the second, so the middle petticoat! This is how it turned out:

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After getting some white cotton I  started looking for patterns. I browsed trough the 1894 to 86 issues of the Gracieuse, and eventually found this petticoat:

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There was a tiny pattern on the pattern sheet. Way to small to read any text, but enough to get a feeling for the shapes. I figured that the front and back would be cut on the fold, and that the horizontal line through the back and side panels would be where the gathering happens. I ended up not using the dart in the side panel, as that piece is gathered on anyway.

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My first step was to translate it to roughly the right length and width. For the length I just measured how far I wanted it, for the width I used the placement of the front-side seam. In the picture you can see that this is just slightly further than halfway around the body. This way I could figure out the width I wanted the front panel, and increase the size of the others similarly.

My first step was to take some notes and measures:

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For construction, the first step was to cut the main skirt shapes, and sew them all together. The front panel has two darts, and has a yoke as waistband.

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The side and back are gathered to a waistband which is itself a bit larger than the waist circumference. The waistband then encases a string (starting at the seam between front and side panels) which ties in place center back.

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On the side and back panels, a piece of cotton tape is stitched on, encasing another cord (again starting at the seam between the front and side panel) which ties center back. Pulling this in keeps the width of the skirt towards the back, and the front smooth. This is quite typical of the skirts of this era. Though very wide, the folds are in the back.

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For the ruffles, I cut one strip 42cm high and one about 16cm high. All ruffles were hemmed with a rolled (machine) hem. This took a while. The small ruffle was about 15m long, the other one about 7m.

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I used my machine pleater foot to sew the small ruffle to the large one, and the large one to the base skirt. Before sewing, the top was simply ironed over about 1cm. In retrospect I cut too much ruffle fabric, as I didn’t really calculate the ratio beforehand. There’s plenty on the skirt though, and I can easily re-use the rest as linings later.

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And this is how it looks finished! I’ve put it over the old Edwardian petticoat to properly show what the shape would be at this point. It’s starting to show the typical A-line shape with fulness in the back. The final petticoat will serve to make the shape even more extreme.

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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Inspiration – Summer

It’s hot here. The record for the warmest night ever was broken last night, and coming Saturday the national day-record might even be broken, as current predictions are 36 C (the record being 38 C). For people in other parts of the world this might not be much, but for the Netherlands it’s quite unique. So while I’m drinking loads of water and eating ice cream, some summery dresses.

The romantic period, between the Regency and Victorian era (ca. 1820-1840) is quite under-represented by historic costumers. The reason is probably that it takes some getting used to. It’s the era of dropping waists, growing skirts, huge sleeves and some fabulous hair (think of styles like in this fashion plate ) . There’s also quite a lot of extant examples of light cotton dresses, and I think the style is growing on me.

 

1820s, Augusta Auction

ca. 1820, Met museum

1823-1825. Sudley House, Liverpool museums

1826 Met museum

1825-30, Met museum

1826-29, Met museum

1825-1835, Augusta Auction

1830s, Vintage Textile

ca. 1830, V&A

1830-1835, Augusta Auctions

1830s, Kerry taylor auctions

circa late 1830’s, Time travelers antiques

ca. 1840, Met Museum