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Fabric Haul & Shopping Adventures

This post was supposed to be a simple fabric haul…but then I got a bit chatty. And I wanted to include some shop reviews and photos from my recent trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. So it’s some sort of shopping adventure/review/haul hybrid.

And unlike most of my hauls, the majority of these material weren’t purchased in NYC! Most of them are from shops near Lancaster Pennsylvania, then I picked up some matching fabrics to pair with them in the garment district.

The first shop I visited in PA was Fabric Mart. I had heard of this shop before since they have a pretty well known website, but it wasn’t until I researched fabric stores near Lancaster that I realized they have a brick and mortar shop as well!

This store didn’t look too promising from the exterior…and the inside wasn’t that inspiring either. Since the store is made up of three rooms, and it isn’t immediately clear that the back rooms are open to customers, it looks quite small when you first walk in. It also wasn’t as densely stocked as a store like Jo-anns, so I was a bit concerned I wouldn’t find anything.

But once I started browsing I was a lot more impressed. They don’t have a ton of fabric, but they have a good variety of materials and relatively unique fabrics – especially when it came to silk. Lots of patterns and designs I’d never seen before, even in places with far more options like the Garment District.

It wouldn’t be the best shop to go to if you were looking for something specific, but I was just there to find pretty fabrics and it was definitely a good shop for that.

However It wasn’t my favorite shopping experience. None of the fabrics were priced – they didn’t even have paper signs to give you some idea of the price range. And none of the employees I spoke to knew prices offhand. Instead you had to go to their website and type in the fabrics item number. I used data on my phone for this, but if you didn’t have a smart phone you’re dependent on a single computer in the center of the store. Even with the phone it was a pain since I was constantly forgetting the prices of each fabric, and some bolts didn’t have any item numbers visible.

They also handle customer service (a team of several people behind desks) for the website in the same room you shop in – which I understand due space limitations, but I felt really awkward and like I was in peoples way.

But I would go back if I was in the area! And I’ll considering ordering from them online in the future, since I did like the selection and uniqueness of their stock.

Now onto what I bought…

The first fabric is from their dollar a yard section. It’s a light pink polyester satin covered with bright pink roses. I absolutely adore this fabric and the style of the print reminds me of how flowers were painted in the 1700’s. Which is why I want to use it for an 18th century robe a la francaise – something i’ve been wanting to make for ages.

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I don’t think the print is accurate for that period, and i’m not sure how well the fabric will pleat, but I think it’s worth a try. I got eleven yards of it, and as I said it was from the dollar section, so the whole bolt only cost me $11!

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Then I picked up a coordinating fabric in the garment district. This will be used for trims and potentially the petticoat. I ended up finding this material at Zahar fabrics, which is one of my favorites since they have a bit of everything and good prices.

However I wasn’t expecting to find this there. I went there to look at chiffon, but on my way to the chiffon section I saw this beautiful silk dupioni, which matches the floral satin — perfectly. Which is fantastic since I needed a warm (almost coral) pink which I thought would be difficult to find.

In addition to being the right color, It has a lovely sheen to it and drapes beautifully. Though the slub is more intense than I usually like, it’s very consistent throughout the fabric so they don’t look like random snags.

I’d budgeted forty dollars for this fabric, which I expected to get me four yards. But I ended up getting five and a half yards for that price, since that was all that was left on the roll!

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The next purchase from Fabric Mart is a mesh embroidered lace. This was from the home decor fabric and on sale for four dollars a yard. I ended up purchasing two yards, and I think it will look beautiful as the trim for an Edwardian gown.

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The threads used on this lace are almost metallic, which gives it a lot of life. I actually have some purple chiffon that matches this, so hopefully I can figure out a design that pairs these two materials together.

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From the silk section (which I spend ages staring at) I bought a yard of this lightweight beige silk. The base fabric has a lovely subtle sheen to it, but it was the metallic stripes that won me over. They have the most beautiful shine to them, it’s so pretty. I think this would make lovely sleeves for a historical dress – maybe paired with a gold or navy brocade.

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And my final purchase there was this silk shantung which has black velvet flocked designs all over it. I can’t even put into words how much I love this fabric, it’s so striking, i’ve never seen anything like it.

It was the most expensive fabric i’ve ever bought (not including beaded lace) but even the price couldn’t deter me, i’m that in love with it. I’m not sure what i’ll use this for, but I bought two yards which should be enough for something neat!

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To go along with that I bought three yards of black micro velvet in the garment district. I love the contrast of these two fabrics together, and I can’t wait to use them. I just have to think of an idea first…

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The next shop I went to is called Goodvile Fabric Outlet/ Zinck’s Fabric – they recently combined and can be found under both names. This store was an experience, truly unlike any other fabric shop i’ve been to. The store is actually a giant warehouse. The front room is carpeted and looks like a normal quilt shop, but the rest of the space is filled with hundreds of pallets of apparel and upholstery fabric.

So.

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Much.Fabric Haul mid 2016-8280Fabric.

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A lot of it was very poor quality – in the whole store I found less than a dozen fabrics I really wanted, but seeing that quantity of fabric was incredible. And it was all really cheap. The flat cuts shown above were a dollar a yard, as were many by the bolt fabrics.

I picked up two of the flat cuts from the home decor section (the only ones soft enough for apparel use) but they didn’t photograph well so I haven’t included photos in this post. I also got a twenty five yard bolt of white organza for twelve bucks, which I was pretty happy with since i’ve wanted to make an organza petticoat for a while.

My by-the-yard purchases included six yards of this bright plaid cotton. This fabric is very fine and very soft and I thought the bright print would make it good for something out of the 1830s – it’s been too long since I paired massive sleeves with a pleated collar!

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From the same section I got a light brown and white plaid fabric. This is very lightweight as well, but has more drape to it, like a medium weight rayon. It feels very nice to the touch and I thought it would make a pretty dress from the early 1800s as well – maybe something regency inspired? This fabric, and the bright plaid were both four dollars a yard.

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I also bought a flat cut of a cotton homespun – I think these were two dollars a yard once discounts were factored in. This piece is almost six yards long and has a very small green and beige checked print. I think the color drew me to this one, I love green and it’s rare for me to see an apparel fabric I like in that color so I snatched it up!

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This shop had a limited suiting section, but what they did have were stunning. Very soft lightweight wool suitings – and only three dollars a yard! The first one I got is a medium brown with small blue and pink stripes.

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And the second one is black and white chevron. I bought these both for suits based on designs from the early 1900s. Tailoring is something I want to get better at, and these are light enough for the menswear inspired dresses that were popular towards the end of the Edwardian period.

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The final fabric from this shop is a polyester satin charmeuse – not usually a fabric I go for, since it tends to look quite inexpensive, but this one has a really nice sheen to it.

I had hoped this would match the lace I purchased from Fabric Mart but it’s a little bit too light – i’ll see if I can make it work, otherwise it’ll go in my pile of mock up fabrics!

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Oh and I bought some buttons too – these were 80c each and I thought they would be handy to have around since I don’t have many small, simple buttons.

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The next store I visited is called The Lace Place. It was a slight struggle to get an appointment here, but i’m glad we did! The store was a lot larger and had a lot more stock than I was expecting. It’s set up a lot like the stores in the Garment District, which is interesting to see in such a rural area – we drove past miles of corn fields and cows to get here!

This shop had a great selection of nylon and colored lace. I found the cotton lace a bit stiff, and the selection of venice and embroidered lace lacking, so I didn’t get many of those. But i’ve never seen this many colorful trims in one place – and in every small pattern imaginable!

The store owner was very nice, and the prices on the narrow trims were very reasonable and well marked. The only negative I can really say is that the checkout and cutting process was slow (especially for fabrics) so I wouldn’t recommend it if you’re tight on time. But if you like lace and you’re nearby it’s definitely worth stopping at!

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My main purchase here was eleven yards of white netting that has gold spots woven into it. I bought this because I thought it resembled the material on Sisi’s star gown. The spots are too close together for it to be used for a replica, but it should work for something similar. Either on its own or as a base for sequins. This was four dollars a yard but twenty five percent off since I bought more than ten yards.

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On top of that I got quite a bit of lace, including three white cotton trims, five small off white ones, and a beautiful embroidered organza one. A lot of these are similar to trims I already own, but most of my trim collection is made up of vintage items which so some signs of age, and it’s nice to have some that you know are unblemished!

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An interesting pin tucked cotton trim that I thought would look neat on a corset, a white pin tucked organza that I thought looked cool, and a beautiful alencon beige lace – I can’t wait to embellish this and use it to trim the sleeves of an evening gown, it’ll look stunning.

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And some colorful trims to help build my collection. I thought these might work for lace inset work as well. And the yellow ribbon lace is to top off a corset that I finished recently – it matches much better than what I found at Jo-anns.

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From the same store I got three grab bags, which were a dollar fifty each. These were such a steal, all of them have a couple lengths of lace that are three to five yards long, along with many pieces that are half that length. It had a lot of fun opening these up and organizing the trims I got. Definitely worth the money, and a joy to look through.

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And now back to the fabric shopping. The final store I visited is called Zooks. It mostly sells quilting fabrics but I did find a few things that would work for my costumes.

The first of which is this plaid orange cotton homespun. I liked the color of this, it made me happy, and the price made me happy too – it was two dollars a yard with an additional twenty percent off. I got all the had left (a little over seven yards) and plan on using this for an 1840’s day dress.

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From the small apparel section I got two yards of a silky feeling dimpled orange fabric. This matches the homespun material perfectly (for some reason that fabric looks more red in photos) and  has a really interesting texture. Hopefully i’ll be able to pair them together.

And I also got three yards of a green striped fabric, which has an interesting texture as well. And once again I purchased this to go with the lace I purchased in the first store – it isn’t a great match, but I think I might be able to get it to work

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From a different quilt shop (I forget the name) I got some embroidery floss, since it was reduced down to four for a dollar. I bought some greens and oranges which I can hopefully turn into some sort of floral sampler. Embroidery is one of those things I really want to improve at but keep putting off learning more about.

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The final few things I got were from the venders section of a quilt show. My first purchase was this magnificent quilting cotton which has unicorns on it. Unicorns are one of my favorite things, and seeing that combined with fabric was wonderful.

I got a yard and a third of this, and I plan on using it to re-cover my ironing board. I think it will look adorable with unicorns running across the bottom!

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I also got a pair of support gloves for my wrists. My wrists are pretty good considering how much time I spend sewing and on my computer, but they do have bad days. I didn’t have super high expectations for these, but I was willing to give them a try. And I’m really glad I did, because I notice a huge difference when I wear them.

I put them on if my wrists are feeling sore and they alleviate the pain by around ninety percent. Which means I don’t have to slow down or take breaks, which I definitely appreciate. I’m not sure that these would work for everyone, or if you have more severe pain, but i’ve been really impressed with them!

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I also bought a wallet, which is a bit silly but very…me. It’s pale blue and has a vintage singer sewing machine on one side, and crossed crane scissors on the other. I justified this because it’s more secure than my previous wallet, and smaller so it fits in my purse better. But I think you can get better wallets for the price, I just fell for it because it’s sewing related.

But I don’t regret it at all because look! So pretty.

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And the final thing I got in PA were buttons. A lot of buttons. There was an antique shop selling a box of buttons for fifteen dollars, and a scoop of buttons for three dollars, with twenty percent off everything.

These are metal buttons which I think are new old stock. They say “Waterbury company” on the side, which is a local button manufacturer who has been providing buttons to the US military for almost a hundred years. I got a box of big ones and two scoops of small ones – all of which totaled seventeen bucks.

Not sure what they will be used for, but I figure I could always sell them on etsy and make my money back.

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Now onto my NYC fabric shopping adventures. The main point of this trip was the see the Manus x Machina exhibit at the Met. But it doubled as a fabric adventure, and a very successful one at that. My list for this trip was relatively small so I could really focus on finding the materials I was interested in. I managed to find everything I wanted so I was very happy!

The first thing I needed was some fabric to match a plaid fabric I ordered online a while back. This is a very bold print so I needed something to break it up. Luckily I found a matching cotton sateen in Hamed Fabrics, and it was only five bucks a yard.

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Then I went to Diana’s fabric, and I was on the hunt for something specific. Last time I was there I fell in love with a blue and white striped taffeta but decided it looked too nautical and that i’d already spent enough money that day. And I’ve regretted not getting it for months. I went back this time with hopes they would have some left.

When I first walked in I was concerned, because all the bolts of striped taffeta were gone. But I had a brought a swatch with me and asked the owner if they had it hidden anywhere. Apparently it was in storage, but they sent someone to fetch it and in a few minutes I was reunited with this beauty.

I recalled this fabric being priced at fifteen dollars a yard, and I needed at least seven yards. I had hoped to talk them down to twelve dollars a yard, but by some miracle I got it for ten dollars a yard. Which is an absolute steal in my opinion – it’s fifty four inches wide and has a beautiful texture and sheen to it.

My plan for this is to make a matching skirt and polonaise that plays with the print of the fabric. I also have a striped organza from a previous trip that I want to use as trimming for this dress, I think that would look very cute!

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While I waited for them to find that fabric I looked at their solid silk taffetas and shantungs. I had hoped to find one in a bright color or jewel tone, something that would work well for an 1890’s day dress. I attempted to make one of these earlier in the year, and though I did finish it, I despise the end result. The fit, the design, the fabric, the length, it’s all bad!

I want to take what i’ve learned from that project and apply it to a new, much nicer dress, that has the same inspiration behind it. And this time around I wanted to use a fabric that drapes nicer than polyester taffeta.

They didn’t have too many colors that interested me, but this bright orangey yellow caught my eye.

I was hesitant about this fabric since it’s different then the colors I usually go for, but I didn’t want to let that stop me, and once the fabric was rolled out and I handled it I couldn’t resist. It’s so crisp but soft and light in a way polyester taffeta isn’t. I’m so incredibly excited to work with this and give this project another shot!

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And my final two purchases are for an 1880’s evening gown. I already have the main fabrics for this (a jacquard and beige taffeta that have been in my stash for years) but wanted something softer for ruffles around the neckline and skirt. I had hoped to find a chiffon, but they didn’t have any in the right color. However I did find a very pretty satin faced chiffon that matched, so I bought that.

At this point the only thing left on my list was a lace fabric for this project. I finally stumbled upon this one in a shop i’m not super familiar with. It was more than I wanted to spend (fifty dollars a yard!) and since I only needed a half yard I couldn’t negotiate a better price. But since I couldn’t find anything else that matched, I decided to get it. And I don’t regret it – it’s truly stunning and matches perfectly.

Fabric Haul mid 2016-8334 And that’s it for fabric shopping but I wanted to share my thoughts on the Met exhibit – i’ll try to keep this short since i’m sure there are far better summaries and photos of this out there!

 I found the exhibit a lot more interesting than I expected. I think the write up on the website is a bit misleading – I thought it would be focusing more on machine made garments, but it was all about the hand sewn details and variety of textures.

There were dozens of beautiful fully sequined dresses, some made fully from feathers, and others that were entirely lace. Though I didn’t like all the dresses (there were some collapsable dresses by a Japanese designer that seemed really out of place, and some “deconstructed” ones that were just…awful, in my opinion) I was really impressed by the majority of them.

The dresses on the left were some of my favorites since they remind me a lot of the dresses the stepsisters wear in the Cinderella live action film.

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And of course I managed to fixate on one of the oldest dresses they had – this 1920’s gown was beautiful. I’ve actually pinned photos of it on pinterest before, so seeing it in person was a treat. I love how heavily embellished it is while still being very light and airy. Plus the ribbon embroidery was beautiful – it makes me want to learn how to do that!

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I also loved seeing the vintage Dior dresses – of which there were probably twenty. I think they are a benefactor for the museum, which probably had to do with their prominence in the exhibit. But I didn’t mind because they were all stunning!

However out of all the dresses, the one that really stuck out is this Givenchy dress. If you’ve been around for a while you may remember my weird idea of making a vulture inspired costume. I purchased the fabrics for it but never settled on a design I was happy with, so it never came to life yet. However this gave me major inspiration! I love how the bodice looks like armor, but it has the softness of fabric. It gives me lots of ideas, which is more than I can say for the others.

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And I think that’s everything I have to say. It’s definitely worth visiting if you appreciate embellishment and pretty dresses!

Thanks for reading!

 
 

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Making a Pink Sateen Ball Gown, 1860’s Inspired, Part Four

Making a Pink Sateen Ball Gown, 1860’s Inspired, Part Four

Here it is, the final post about my lacy 19th century confection! If you haven’t already, definitely check out the first few posts about this project. They can be found here, here, and here. They will make this post a lot easier to follow!

The final thing I had to make for my dress were bows. I didn’t have enough material left over to make them as large and frilly as I wanted, but they still turned out okay! The first step was cutting out the rectangles…

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Then the slightly longer rectangles were trimmed so the sides ended in points.

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I didn’t have very much lace left over, so I ended up trimming these pieces (which will be the tails) with the offcuts from cutting the lace to be more narrow. Not ideal but better than nothing!

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And what little lace I had left went onto the rectangles that make up the bows. Since only one side will be visible I decided to only sew lace onto half of each rectangle.

DSC_5810After it was sewn on I ironed the edges inward. Now this is where I should have hand sewed the edges down to finish them nicely.

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But I didn’t do that because I was feeling lazy, so instead I used strips of fusible interfacing to keep the edges down. Not my best work, and I kind of regret not taking a few hours to sew these properly, but I had been working on this project for soo long at this point and saving an hour of time was too tempting to resist.

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I gathered the tails down with two rows of stitching that are an inch apart.

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The rectangles for the bows were folded in half, then sewn together and gathered down in the same way.

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Then I pleated the bows to make the centers smaller.

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Look at all of them!

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The tails were tacked onto the backs.

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Then I cut much smaller rectangles out which will make up the centers of the bows. The edges of these were ironed inward and finished with interfacing (does that even count as finishing?). To make them a bit prettier I sewed on bits of alencon lace trim.

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All finished! I love bows, they are cute.

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Somewhere along the way I finished sewing on the scalloped panels, which left the skirt looking like this.

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Then I trimmed twelve inches of fabric off the back of the skirt, since there was a big gab between the scalloped panels there that didn’t look good. I finished the raw edge of the back panels with lace tape, which was sewn on by hand since dragging this skirt through my sewing machine is really difficult (it weighs eight pounds!).

I also sewed up the back seam (this time I did use my machine) leaving the top ten inches open to make it easy to get on and off.

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And now it was time for attaching the bows.

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There was still a slight gap between the scalloped panels, but nothing a bit of lace and a bow can’t fix.

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Here is a close up of it before the bow.

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Tah dah! I used a bit of the leftover chantilly lace and sewed it between the panels. Then slapped a bow over it and it’s perfect!

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I cut out the waistband from the skirt offcuts, then fused interfacing into it to keep it smooth. The edges were all turned inward by a half inch.

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I sewed it on with a half inch seam allowance.

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Then folded it over the raw edge and pinned the other side to the line of stitching. This means the bulk of the skirt will be in the waistband, but since the skirt was pleated (as opposed to being gathered) it doesn’t look too bad.

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This edge was whip stitched down.

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The skirt closed with four hooks and bars.

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Quick fitting to make sure everything looks okay. The waistband was perfect, the only problem was a bit of visible petticoat the back seam where it was left open. To fix that I sewed in a modesty panel and the skirt was finished!

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The skirt needing a modesty panel reminded me to add one to the bodice. Which reminded me that I still hadn’t finished sequining the bodice, nor had I fixed the gap in lace on the back of it. Luckily, much like with the skirt, a bow fixed the gap in lace and upped it’s cuteness factor!

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And that’s it for the dress! But are we done yet? No. Of course not.
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For accessories I bought a necklace (which probably isn’t accurate) from forever 21, and a pair of lacy shoes from Funtusma (definitely not accurate). Unfortunately the petticoat issue forced me to wear higher heels with this skirt instead of my pretty boots but i’m determined to wear them with a different costume someday.

The final thing I needed was a headpiece. In the 1860’s evening caps or headbands were the most popular. I made mine a combination of the two. It’s made from interfacing strips with wire sewn into the edges. It’s covered with bias tape made from the sateen and has a chantilly lace ruffle across the back.

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I covered the top with alencon lace trim that was further embellished with sequins, faux pearls, and pink seed beads – the same beads used to detail the bodice and sleeves.

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Then I used some fake flowers and metal beads to add volume to the sides.

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Now it looked weird, which means it’s perfect because these headpieces were pretty weird.

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And that’s actually it! Every piece is complete (and fits)! Which means it’s time for some worn photos. I’d love to get more photos of this in a better environment, because (shockingly) it against a white backdrop with dim lighting doesn’t really do it justice. But for now these will have to do!

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Bonus: My dress compared to the one that inspired it.

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And compared to the sketch I made before starting – it isn’t too far off!

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That’s it for today – thanks for reading!

 

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Making a Pink Sateen Ball Gown, 1860’s Inspired, Part Three

It’s taken me two months but I finally have another post about making my 1860’s ball gown! I’ve already showed the process of making the bodice and sleeves, and today i’ll be going through the first steps in making the matching skirt.

The skirt wasn’t hard to make, it’s just massive so every step involved in making it was time consuming. And the underskirts for it took up half my sewing room, so working on it was a commitment which required packing away the other things I had in progress. Because of this it took ages to finish, but it’s finally done!

The first step in making this skirt was making the support structure for it. When photographing a more casual 1860’s costume I had success with layering petticoats over my farthingale to get the shape of an elliptical hoop. I decided to use this method again, but instead of pinning existing petticoats onto the farthingale, i’d make a massive one to sit overtop of it.

I thought this was a great idea. It meant I didn’t have to buy sixty dollars worth of hooping wire (and wait for it to arrive), and I thought it would save time since even if I did make a new hoop skirt, i’d still have to make a petticoat to go overtop of it to smooth out the shape.

This was stupid. It didn’t save time at all. In fact i’m pretty sure it took me twice as long to make this petticoat than it would have to make a new hoop skirt and a smaller petticoat. I also massively screwed up my neck while making it since I was hunched over my machine hemming for days…

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And the petticoat didn’t really work. Because it collapsed.  And by that I mean the netting compacted under the weight of all the ruffles, making it much smaller (and longer!) than it was originally, so it doesn’t have the silhouette i’d wanted at all. I tried steaming it and storing it in a variety of different ways (laid flat, hanging upside down, laying upside down, on the dress form, etc.) but it refused to come back to life.

Because of all that i’m not going to talk about how I made it, but you can see photos of it above. Those were taken right after it was finished, before it started collapsing and losing it’s shape. You’ll probably notice it looking smaller (and sadder) throughout this post, and now you’ll know why!

*bonus photo of petticoat standing on its own looking like a creepy ruffly ghost haunting me with its failed ruffly potential*

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After the petticoat disaster I did look into making a proper elliptical hoop, but it turns out hooping wire has been discontinued! And the replacement is twice the price, meaning the hoopskirt would cost more than the dress did to make.

Plus by this point the skirt was finished and made to fit over the petticoat/farthingale combo, and likely wouldn’t hang properly over an elliptical hoop without major alterations. I still haven’t figured out a solution for this, so unfortunately my dress doesn’t have the silhouette i’d hoped it would. But it’s still ruffly and pretty so i’m going to talk about it anyway!

When it came to actually making the skirt, I failed to photograph the first few steps. But they weren’t very interesting anyway.

I began by cutting out eight strips of fabric that were seventeen inches wide. I sewed them all together with french seams, and hemmed them by machine with lace tape.

Then I cut the borders off three yards of alencon lace fabric. This particular lace had two thin borders on each edge which could be fussy cut away from the mesh and serve as lace trim. It took me a few hours (and a few hand cramps) but eventually I got all the lace cut out. Then I sewed it onto the bottom edge of the massive strip I assembled earlier – by hand, of course.

The top edge of the strip was gathered down by hand until it was five yards long. Then it was set aside and I got to work on the rest of the skirt.

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I put the petticoats onto my dress form, then adjusted the form to sit at my height. I measured from the waistline to the floor at a half dozen points and wrote the measurements down. Then I came up with a simple seven panel pattern for the skirt that could be cut from the fabric I had leftover.

The pieces were cut to sit approximately ten inches off the ground, with the hem trimmed to a more even length after I figured out the pleating of the waistline.

I could have sworn I took photos of my pattern, but this is the only one I have. I believe this was one of the back panels (maybe?)

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They were all sewn together with french seams, though the back was left open to make embellishing the skirt easier.

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After sewing the panels together I pleated the waistline. It has three double box pleats at the sides and front, and double knife pleats at the back.

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I’m so grateful I cut the pieces to be longer than I thought they needed to be. Though each panel should have hat 5 inches to spare, some were just barely long enough!

And I know it looks really messy here, but it will be steamed and trimmed later on which makes a huge difference.

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I sewed across the top of the skirt to secure the pleats.

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Then I pinned the ruffle onto the skirt and fiddled with it until I was happy with the length. I looked at a lot of evening dresses from this period and many of them had long hems that dragged on the ground, so I chose to leave mine long as well.

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I used a pen to mark where the hem should be cut. This was marked before removing the ruffle.

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After trimming the hem I pinned the ruffle on. Even though I gathered the ruffle down long before knowing the exact size of the skirt, it ended up being the perfect length! It was only off by a half inch, which was a very happy surprise.

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Here is the skirt after sewing the ruffle on.

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At this point I chose to do a try on test with the skirt and realized it was a bit too long (and one side was longer than the other). I didn’t want to hem the skirt again, so I chose to sew a half inch wide seam a few inches above where the skirt attached. This lifted the hem by an inch.

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Now it was time for the frills. In my original sketch i’d planned on doing scalloped panels that were embellished with lace appliques and covered with gathered tulle, which is the same technique used on the collar of the bodice. This was challenging since I didn’t have very much cotton sateen left over, but I managed!

Step one was draping the scalloped pattern.

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I transferred it to paper and cut out five from the sateen. Since I was working with limited materials, some of the panels had seams running through them or were made from multiple pieces sewn together.

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Then I fussy cut out a ton of appliques and pinned them onto the scalloped pieces. The tulle overlay will be denser near the edges so I kept the appliques towards the center of each piece.

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They were all sewn on by hand.

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Then I gathered down strips of tulle and sewed them onto the top edge of each piece.

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The bottom edges were gathered down as well, then sewn in place. The excess tulle was trimmed away.

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For maximum frillyness I wanted the edges of the scallops to be finished will lace. I ordered twenty yards of trim from etsy, which was advertised as being white but was actually light blue! Luckily all it took was a two minute bath in tetly tea to get it to a more neutral ivory.

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I trimmed the lace to be one inch wide, then pinned it onto the edges of the panels.

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The lace was sewn on with a half inch seam allowance.

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Then I turned the lace inward and sewed it in place by hand to avoid visible topstitching. The finished edges looked like this!

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Of course they still weren’t finished. There weren’t even any ruffles on them! To fix that I sewed together four pieces of chantilly lace to make a twelve yard strip.

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Then I gathered the top edge down by pushing it under the presser foot as I sewed.

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The lace was sewn onto the hem of each scalloped panel, and now they were finally done!

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Look at this stack of them.

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Before attaching them to the skirt I decided to jazz the skirt up a bit with some more alencon lace. I debated about whether  or not to use so much of this lace (since it isn’t very accurate) but ended up going for it since it’s so pretty.

These are also lace borders that were fussy cut out, but these ones are much wider.

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I sewed the widest one onto the front of the skirt, and the narrower one onto the back. This was stitched on by hand as well, which took quite a while. Here you can see it pinned in place.

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And here it’s sewn on!

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The lace originally came up higher at the center front, but I cut it down to a more even length since I thought this was a bit too much. Also the gap between the lace and the ruffle is intentional, since the scalloped panels will cover that area up.DSC_5688

After another fitting (this was after my petticoat problems) I realized the skirt was now too short. So I removed the seam I made earlier. This was kind of a pain since some of the lace trim was sewn overtop of it, but it ended up working out alright.

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Now the scalloped panels could finally be pinned in place!

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This photo shows them before they were sewn on, but I think it gives you a good idea of how they look!

And with this, I finally reached adequate levels of frilliness.

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The next post will cover adding the bows (did you think I would forget bows?!) and boring stuff like the waistband and closure methods. I’ll also have worn photos up along with it!

If you want a sneak peek of all that, I do talk a bit about this project in my most recent weekly progress log!

Thanks for reading!

 

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Making a Horned Headdress from Pink Brocade

Making a Horned Headdress from Pink Brocade

Last week I found myself in a bit of a rut. I had finished a few projects and wasn’t feeling very inspired or motivated to move forward with any new plans. My progress was so slow that it was barely worth making the effort.

Usually when this happens it means it’s time for me to make something fun that is different from my recent projects and won’t take very long to complete. I didn’t have anything specific in mind, but during a trip to Jo-anns I came across a pack of framed stones that gave me an idea.

Isn’t it funny how you can have a room full of fabrics and beads and no idea what to make, but a four dollar pack of embellishments can give you a dozen ideas? I bought some seed beads to go with the stones, but I already owned the rest of the materials for this project.

Those materials include various gold brocades, a pink floral brocade, scroll print chiffon, fake pearls, and a few different types of glitter mesh.

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I planned on using these materials to make some sort of elaborate horned headpiece, with one of the stones sitting at the center front. None of the materials for this project are historically accurate, but I wanted to make the silhouette very close to the traditional heart shaped headpieces from the 15h century.

Like most of my headpieces (ecspecially the medieval ones – remember my escoffin?) this design was inspired by, and based on an image from Women’s Hats, Headdresses and Hairstyles: Medieval to Modern*.

Here is my sketch, and some fabric swatches.

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Drafting this was…interesting. I started by making the cone since I thought that part would be easy. I was wrong. The cone isn’t a partial circle. To cup the head properly and cover the ears it has to have a totally different shape. And trying to fit the base those cones attach to was a challenge as well.

Eventually I ended up with something that looks like this. The original plan was for the horns to be sewn together at the center, which would give them an upright look. When I attempted to do that after assembling the horns I realized that would cause my ears to show, so instead they were sewn a quarter inch apart. That’s why my finished headpiece has a flatter top than what’s shown here.

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I transferred my pattern onto thicker paper, then traced the new pattern onto heavyweight interfacing and cut the pieces out.

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Three of the pieces were sewn together to create the domed back of the headpiece. Then wire was sewn into the edges of all the pieces.

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The wire caused the base of the horns to sit nicely, but the tops were collapsing inward. So I sewed two more bands of wire into each horn to make them stiffer.

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The horns were a bit bumpy at points, since the interfacing can have a weird texture to it when it’s forming curves. I covered them with quilt batting to fix this, then pinned them into cones and held them up to make sure the shape was right.

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They looked pretty good, so I went ahead and draped the striped patten that goes overtop.

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The pattern was cut apart, then transferred onto paper where I added quarter inch seam allowances to each piece.

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Then I cut all the pieces out! This took longer than I had planned since I ended up adding overlays to most of the tiers. To do this I roughly cut out the pattern from mesh, then sewed it onto the base fabric and trimmed the edges.

Trimming the edges afterward means you don’t have to worry about the mesh warping as you sew it and becoming too small to cover the base layer.

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Here are a bunch of trimmed pieces, ready to be sewn together.

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I started with the top tiers.

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Then did the rest! I wasn’t thrilled with the end result – the seams are a bit bumpy and I felt like the contrast between the fabrics was poor. But I wasn’t too upset since I knew beading would help differentiate the tiers and add a lot of texture to the piece.

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I stretched the fabric over the cones, then folded the raw edges under the interfacing. After sewing the edges down I did up the back seam with upholstery thread, which turned them into actual cone like horn things!

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And the beading begins! I decorated the second tier with iridescent sequins that follow the pattern of gold mesh. Then used two rows of pearls and seed beads to cover up the seam line.

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The forth tier has rows of gold seed beads spaced one inch apart. Once again each seam is covered by a line (or two!) or fake pearls that are framed by seed beads.

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The bottom tier has a quilted design created from pink seed beads, and the bottom edge is trimmed with piping.

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Here are the two horns finished!

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I covered the interfacing that makes up the back of the headpiece with quilt batting and gold brocade. Then I sewed the horns onto it. After doing this I could try it on and get an idea of how it looked. It was at this point that I realized the panel i’d cut out for the front was way too small.

I recut it from more interfacing, this time adding a half inch to the sides and a full inch to the back edges. Once again I sewed wire into the edges, then it was covered with pink chiffon and trimmed with piping. I sewed it onto the rest of the headpiece, and now I had something wearable!

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To finish it off I cut out the veil  (a partial circle)  from the scroll print pink chiffon. Then I turned the edges inward by hand so they wouldn’t fray.

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I sewed the veil onto the front of the headpiece, then covered its join point with one of the stones that originally inspired this project. The final touch was a line of pearls across the front, and that was it!

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The headpiece is currently unlined, since I’m not sure if I should partially stuff the horns before lining them or not. I’m also not sure if I should sew combs in to help keep it in place. I’d like to figure those things out before finishing the interior.

After trying this on I noticed the horns didn’t cup my my head as nicely as I wanted. This was fixed by gathering the center back slightly and bending the wire.

As you can see the back isn’t too pretty (or symmetrical – oops!), but the veil covers most of it!

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And here is a close up of the horns, look at all those different fabrics!

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I took some worn photos of this headpiece yesterday, but the lighting wasn’t the best and the only photos I like show it from a single angle, which sort of stinks.

I’m sure i’ll get more pictures of it in the future once I make a costume that matches it! In the mean time I’m wearing it with a brocade kirtle I made last year.

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After wearing it for a bit I’m pretty sure I need to add a ruffle to the back to cover my hairline…or maybe wrap my head with fabric before putting it on, so that isn’t visible. But since it’s quite tight that might be difficult. I’ll have to play around with it a bit.

Other than that, I really like this! I think the beading turned out nicely and I love all these fabrics together. It took me about a week to make, but I could have made it in half that time if it was my only focus.

It was a lot of fun, but unfortunately now that it’s done i’m back to feeling uninspired! I may have to make another one of these…

Thanks for reading!

 

 

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Cycling Costume 1890’s, Photos

Cycling Costume 1890’s, Photos

It’s odd, last week I posted a set of photos that I really liked, but the photos were of a project I wasn’t very happy with. And this week it’s the other way around! I’m really pleased with this costume, but I don’t think these photos do it justice. I hope to get more photos of it in the future, but with the weather we’ve been having I don’t think that will happen any time soon.

On the bright side, I also took video footage of this costume for my Costume Spotlight series, and i’m actually much happier with how it looks there! So if you’d like to see it in motion i’d suggest checking out this video.

I’ll be making a page with a summary of this project soon, along with links to all the posts related to it. But in the mean time, all the posts about this costume can be found under this tag – and the post about the foundation garments that are worn underneath it can be found here.

These first few photos were taken outside an abandoned church – it’s right around the corner from a bikers bar, and I thought it would be hilarious to go there and get photos of this costume with a “bike” but I wasn’t sure anyone there would find it as funny as me, so I did not.

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Then we went to a park for more photos. In these photos the sleeves are stuffed to add volume.

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Sorry for the wrinkly bloomers – sitting in the car really did an number on them!

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And that’s it!

Thanks for viewing!

 
8 Comments

Posted by on July 15, 2016 in 19th century, Completed Costumes

 

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Making Turn of the Century Foundation Garments

Making Turn of the Century Foundation Garments

So this post is probably going to be really long. And it’s also long overdue – most of these pieces were completed back in January!

These were made to pair with a few turn of the century gowns that I had planned (including this taffeta dress), and were some of the first things I made in 2016. My goal was to have a full set of foundation garments that would work for the 1890s and the early 1900s. That was supposed to include a corset, chemise, bloomers, and a petticoat.

That didn’t really end up happening. My corset has the wrong silhouette, i’m not very happy with the chemise, and I never ended up making the bloomers. But I invested a lot of time into these pieces and I ended up wearing them with a few projects, so I thought I should write about them anyway!

All these pieces were made primarily from a white eyelet cotton fabric I purchased in the garment district. They are trimmed with white lace from my stash, a pink embroidered lace I got on etsy, and pink ribbon in various widths.

We’ll start with the corset. Usually I use corset patterns from Norah Waugh’s Corsets and Crinolines* – which is what I should have done here. But I was feeling a bit lazy, and I had recently come across a corset I made for a class a few years back. The corset didn’t fit me very well (too large in the stomach, and too tight across my ribs) and wasn’t a style I could pair with historical costumes.

So I decided to take it apart, make a few alterations, and reuse the boning to create a more historically accurate silhouette. And I wouldn’t have to cut or tip any boning as long as I kept all the boning channels on my altered pattern the same length!

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I also added seam allowance for a busk at the front, and changed the neckline. Then I cut the pieces out from denim and marked the boning channels.

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 I cut out the top layers of fabric, which consist of muslin and eyelet cotton.

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And sewed all the boning channels.

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Then the pieces were sewn together…

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And I had something that looked like this!

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Before sewing the front panels to the rest of the corset I added the busk, well first I prepared the fabric for the busk. See all the gaps in the seam? That’s where the hooks will poke out.

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And here it is sewn in place. Someone on instagram said I sewed it in upside down, but it was a little late to change it by that point and it doesn’t really effect the wear of the corset so i’m not too bothered.

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Preparing the other side. I made the holes, then fray checked them and waited for that to dry before inserting the busk.

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I trimmed the denim seam allowances down to a quarter inch, then added the boning.

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The top and bottom edges were both finished with two inch wide facings that were sewn on with half inch seam allowances.

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At this point it was starting to look like a corset!

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Next step were the eyelets – I chose to hand embroider them, as per usual, since I prefer them to metal.

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I used pink thread for this but they look like a weird off white color in photos, which sort of sucks!

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At this point I could do my first real first real fitting. It was slightly too large in the bust, so I added a dart to either side, but other than that it was fine.

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Which meant I could start decorating it! I decided to use some chantilly lace across the top edge – this is a cheap one I got off etsy.

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I cut it into two forty inch lengths, then folded the ends inward and sewed them down by hand so they wouldn’t fray.

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I turned the top edge inward by a third of an inch, then sewed it down to create a channel for ribbon.

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I threaded some pink ribbon through it and used that to gather the ribbon down. The end result looks quite delicate and pretty – or at least it does in my opinion!

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I sewed that on by hand.

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Then the corset was lined with muslin.

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And that’s it! I left the ends of the ribbon long so they can tie into a bow at the center front. I think it’s the prettiest foundation garment i’ve made – it’s so frilly, I love it. And i’m actually pretty fond of how it looks worn. It just isn’t right for this period.

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It doesn’t give nearly the amount of reduction it should and it looks quite bulky when dresses are worn overtop of it. I think it will work nicely with dresses from the late edwardian period, when more natural waists were becoming acceptable, but it definitely doesn’t suit the variety of eras i’d hoped it would. I’m going to attempt making something more suitable soon, this time following an actual historical pattern!

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Also, i’m aware tying corsets is the front is bad for them, but I can’t tie them tight enough without help and since I usually only have them on for short periods of time i’m not too bothered!

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Now for the chemise. I made this before doing any real research on the 1890’s, from fabrics I had around, and based it almost entirely off this image. Looking back I wish I had made a fuller chemise, with some lace inset work, but my hope was that this slimmer design could be worn with fitted dresses from later periods, making it more versatile.

Instead of doing lace inset, I made a lace collar that the fabric falls from. I made a pattern for this, then pleated lengths of lace so it fit inside the pattern.

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The pleats were sewn in place, then I trimmed the ends so they line up nicely.

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I sewed ribbon down the center of the lace, then sewed the lace together at the front.

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The body of the chemise is one piece, with a seam at the back.

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The arm openings were finished with bias tape.

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Then the top edge was folded outward, and the lace collar was pinned on.

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I sewed it on by machine.

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Then covered the stitching with a ribbon lace from Jo-anns, which was sewn on by hand.

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The hem is a simple double hem.

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Which I covered with ruffled embroidered lace.

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Then I sewed  on the lace I had leftover from making the collar, this covers the top edge of the ruffled lace.

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And it’s finished off with ribbon and ribbon lace.

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The back seam is done up with a french seam and that’s it!

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I think this looks quite pretty when worn with the corset – but In the future I would like to make a more traditional turn of the century chemise using some historical methods.

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And the final piece i’ll be talking about today is the combination set. This combines the chemise and bloomers into one garment. I hadn’t originally planned on making this, but my chemise was too long to be worn with my cycling costume, and I wanted something to fill out the cycling bloomers that wasn’t too bulky.

I draped the bodice on my dress from, then cut it out from more eyelet cotton. The neckline was gathered down, then straps were sewn on and the seam allowances were covered with lace tape.

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The collar is covered with an embroidered lace applique that a reader sent me a couple years ago, and the rest of the visible edges are covered with ribbon.

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The back closes with six hand sewn eyelets, and I attached little bows to the straps because I really like bows.

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Here is the finished bodice.

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The bottom portion is a slimmer, shorter version of the bloomers pattern I drafted a while back. This was sewn together with french seams.

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I left the bottom few inches open so I could get my legs into them.

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Then I sewed mesh lace onto the cuffs with a one inch seam allowance.

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Then the seam allowance was sewn down to create a channel for ribbon.

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Ribbon got threaded through that to create adorable ruffly little cuffs.

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I sewed the shorts to the bodice, then covered the raw edge with lace tape – this creates another channel, which will also be used for ribbon.

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I sewed up the back, leaving the top few inches open. There is also a half inch opening at the waistline, which is where the ribbon will be threaded through.

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Here is how it looked when I was done! This was a lot of fun to make. Since I cheated and did most of it by machine it came together in less than a day.

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It’s also really practical, i’ve been wearing it with a bunch of projects since it’s so comfy and the straps can easily be tucked down for off-the-shoulder dresses (like my civil war era ball gown). I see myself getting a lot of use out of it!

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And that’s it for this post! Three projects, fifteen hundred words, fifty-ish photos, and lots of frills.

If you want to read even more about frilly foundation garments, the blog post about making a matching petticoat is here.

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Thanks for reading!

 

 

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1790’s Round Robe, Photos

It’s been a long time since i’ve had a post devoted to finished photos of a costume! But this weekend I got two costumes photographed, and last month I got two other projects photographed. So I should have lots of photos to share soon – I just have to get them edited first!

These photos are of my 1790’s Round Robe based on one of Norah Waugh’s patterns. The pattern gave me quite a bit of trouble and I ended up being unhappy with the shape of the bodice. But I kept going and now that it’s finished I quite like the ensemble.

It’s made from several yards of striped pale yellow cotton, with a front panel made from a sheer curtain. The bodice (and back of the skirt) is lined with muslin. The skirt closes at the front front with a drawstring and the bodice closes with hooks and snaps.

I paired the dress with some fake pearls and a straw hat that I altered, lined, and trimmed to make it more period appropriate.

I have to posts about making this dress, which can be read here, and here if you’re interested.

Now onto the photos!

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And that’s it!

 

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Making a Yellow Striped 1790’s Round Robe, Part Two

Making a Yellow Striped 1790’s Round Robe, Part Two

This is the second (and final) post about making my 1790s Round Robe, based on a pattern from Norah Waugh’s The Cut of Women’s Clothes: 1600-1930*. I posted about my struggles with making the bodice here, and today i’m writing about making the sleeves, skirt, and matching hat. Luckily those parts gave me way less trouble than the bodice!

The sleeves were kind of confusing. As mentioned in my previous post the pattern for these was weird. The lining pattern was a completely different shape and size, with much smaller cuffs than the sleeve pattern. Yet there was no gathering marked on the sleeve pattern that indicated they could be sewn together.

So I decided to ditch the lining pattern.  I cut the sleeve pattern from the striped yellow fabric and sewed them together with half inch seams. I “finished” the interior edges with fray check since I forgot to add enough room to do french seams (oops). Then I finished the cuffs off with bias tape.

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The top edges were also finished with bias tape, though I was a bit sloppier and attached this by machine since it won’t show.

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I pinned the sleeves to the underarm of the bodice first.

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Then I gathered the tops until the fit nicely in the sleeve cap.

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The sleeves were sewn on with slip stitches, and later reinforced with running stitches that were sewn a quarter inch away from the edge.

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Now it was time for the skirt! It was kind of unclear on the pattern whether the total width of the skirt was eighty inches, or if the back panels were eighty inches and the front panel/visible petticoat was an unmentioned width. I like full skirts so I chose to go with the latter…plus an extra twelve inches to make it more proportional to my height.

(and because I like full skirts)

I cut two forty six inch wide panels, then sewed them together with a single french seam. I cut the hem on an angle so it’s a few inches longer at the back than at the front. And I also rounded off the corners.

The hem was turned inward by a half inch with basting stitches.

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Then inward once again to hide the raw edges. This time I sewed it in place with whip stitches.

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The back is pleated with double box pleats. I really like double box pleats, they nicely distribute fabric and aren’t as bulky as gathers or as finicky as normal pleats. Here was the “pleat sheet” that I followed.

1790s Yellow-7484And marked onto the top edge of my fabric.

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Here it is pleated down.

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And laid out flat.

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I sewed across the top, then pinned it to the waistline of the bodice. I left all the pins in the pleats until after the skirt was sewn on.

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It was sewn on with whip stitches and now I had something that looks like this!

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I’m pretty sure a dress like this would have been worn over a petticoat that was visible from the front of the gown. But I didn’t have a petticoat that was pretty enough (or high waisted enough) for that to work. So I chose to add a front panel.

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The front panel is made from a rectangle of a sheer curtain from ikea (which is roughly fifty inches wide) and a rectangle of muslin (forty-ish inches wide) that are sewn together with french seams. The back portion will be gathered and sewn in place but the centermost thirty inches of the curtain fabric gather down with a draw string.

On the top edge I marked the center point. Then I put two pins fifteen inches away from the center point in either direction.

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Ribbon is sewn over the 15″ marks, then tucked into a channel (which was actually the hem of the curtains). The ribbons poke out at the center point and can be pulled and tied to gather the material down.

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After doing this I hemmed the skirt – I ended up hemming this again because it was an inch two long.

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The portions of the top edge that don’t have a drawstring were gathered down by machine.

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Then it was sewn into the waist of the skirt. As you can see the muslin panel is at the back of the skirt – it adds width to the hem of the front panel which makes it hang nicely, but isn’t visible when the dress is worn.

I’d planned on posting photos of the process of getting into this dress since it looks a big confusing, but it’s actually really easy! The dress can be stepped into, then arms go into the sleeves and the drawstring on the skirt is pulled until it’s tight it sits above the waistline. The “lining” of the bodice hooks together overtop of the skirt and keeps in place. Then the snaps/hooks on the bodice are done up and that’s it!

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The headpiece for this costume was really easy. I’m not a huge fan of the popular turban headdresses from the 1790s (though I plan on making one for a different project) so I decided to make a hat instead. My usual methods of interfacing and wire seemed to heavy for such a summery dress, so I bought a cheap straw hat from Michaels.

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I made a TON of alterations to it (I filmed a tutorial of the process, which can be watched here if you’re interested) like lowering the sides, narrowing the brim, and reshaping the crown to make it more appropriate for an 18th century costume.

I also lined the hat with a scrap of the ikea curtains and trimmed it with a ribbon and bow made from leftovers of the yellow fabric. The final touch was a feather and some flowers. It isn’t perfectly accurate, but for less than ten bucks of materials and an hour of time i’m pretty pleased with it!

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Here is the finished ensemble. Though I don’t love how this dress looks from the front (my frustrations with the volume placement mentioned in the post about making the bodice still stand) I like the silhouette from the side a lot. And the color scheme makes me happy – I don’t usually make light or summery dresses, so it’s a nice change.

It’s paired with a cheap blonde wig and a long strand of pearls from Kohl’s. Last minute I decided to stick a petticoat underneath it the dress – just a small quilted petticoat that has an eighty inch circumference and pleated waist, which added a lot to the shape of the dress.

And that’s it! More photos of it finished will follow this post later today.

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Thanks for reading!

 

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Making Bloomers – 1890’s Cycling Costume, Part Four

Making Bloomers – 1890’s Cycling Costume, Part Four

This week i’m writing about the final piece of my cycling ensemble – a costume that already consists of a jacket, shirtwaist, and bow tie. Wearing those things on their own would have been pretty scandalous which is why I decided to pair them with cycling bloomers!

My original inspiration for this costume was this ensemble, which features the most fantastic pair of bloomers i’ve ever seen. As soon as I saw them I knew I had to make something similar, and I think i’ve accomplished it!

Drafting these was surprisingly easy. I copied the inseam from a pair of modern shorts onto newsprint, then dropped the crotch by almost five inches. I made each piece very wide – almost thirty inches at the waistline, and bigger at the hem. Unfortunately I didn’t take a photo of my pattern, but it honestly looked like giant rectangles with a crotch seam. Nothing too exciting!

Since I was feeling daring I cut the pattern out without making a mock up – I figured it was so massive i’ve have enough material there to make alterations if they were required.

After cutting the pieces out I sewed across the crotch seams with basting stitches. I was very careful here since I wanted the plaid fabric to line up perfectly. Unfortunately I realized half way through doing this that the pieces weren’t cut out properly and that the plaid wouldn’t line up. I think it’s a small enough print that it doesn’t really matter but I was a bit peeved!

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 I sewed the crotch seams by machine with a one inch seam allowance. The top eight (ish) inches of the front seam were left open, since that’s where the closures will be.

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 I ironed interfacing into the portion of the seam that was left open. This makes the fabric a bit sturdier and should make the front look smoother after the snaps are sewn in. One side of the seam allowance is ironed inward by an inch to create a finished edge.

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Then I realized I didn’t finish these seams. So I sewed lace tape to hide the raw edges, which was a pain to do at this stage!

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I sewed snaps into the front panel, placed a half inch away from each edge. I placed these pretty far apart (and used crappy snaps from the garment district) because there won’t be a lot of tension on them.

After sewing them on the edge that was ironed inward was whip stitched in place so it won’t flap about.

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 I did up the side seams, and inseam with french seams – here you can see how massive the are! They took almost four yards of flannel shirting to make.

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And it was time for pleats! I marked them onto the waistline.

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And pinned them in place using the plaid design as a guide. The pleat pattern I did for this is kind of weird – the front and back are box pleats, with knife pleats that meet in an inverted box pleat at the sides. I didn’t intend on doing that, but it looked best when I started playing around with the fabric.

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I sewed across the top edge to secure the pleats. And I intentionally chose not to iron the pleats since I didn’t want the fabric to have a structured feel to it.

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I tried the bloomers on at this point and realized they were really long, so I chopped two inches off the hem. Then I gathered the cuffs down so they were slightly larger than my calf measurement.

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Now they started looking like pants!

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After a successful fitting I cut out the waistband and cuffs, which are just rectangles backed with fusible interfacing.

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The cuffs were sewn with french seams.

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Then ironed in half so the raw edges touch, leaving a nice folded edge along the bottom.

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I sewed the cuffs on by machine with a half inch seam allowance – this isn’t my prettiest stitch work, but in my defense this fabric is really thick when it’s gathered!

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I bound the raw edges with home made bias tape, then ironed them.

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I folded the top edges of the waistband inward by an inch. Then I turned the two inches on one side inward by a little bit more. This makes it look nicer when they overlap.

I sewed across the bottom and side edges with running stitches, but left the bottom edge open since it will be secured when it’s sewn onto the shorts.

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The waistband is pinned so two inches on one side extend beyond the center front.

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It was sewn in place with whip stitches, then lined with cotton.

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I sewed three hooks and bars into the waistband. The bars are an inch and a half away from the center front on one side, which creates the asymmetrical closure.

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Two decorative buttons were added and that’s it!

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I’m so pleased with these. The closure is invisible when they are worn and i’m really happy with how the look on. They are really unflattering but have a very authentic looking silhouette. I was a bit concerned the crotch would be too high or low, and the volume would pool weirdly at the sides, but I think they are perfect!

And they took less than seven hours to make, which is crazy since I thought they would be the most difficult part of this costume.

I have photos of them worn but they haven’t been edited yet (though there is a bit of footage that shows me wearing them in the video about making them), so here is how they look flat.

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Now onto the hat. I started this ages ago, in March before I had the fabrics for this project. I was sick at the time and wanted a hand sewing project to work on in front of the TV and this seemed like a good candidate. Women’s Hats, Headdresses and Hairstylesmentioned sailor hats being popular during the 1890’s and I found a few examples of them being worn with cycling costumes, so I decided to make one!

Though everywhere says they are made from straw, I didn’t have access to straw. And even though I didn’t have fabrics for this project, I knew it would be based on the color scheme of this piece, and straw would clash with that.

So instead I used interfacing and buckram which is trimmed with wire.

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My pattern for this was really simple, I drafted it after taking large quantities of cold medication and it still turned out fine.

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The pieces were then covered with wool. The brim is lined with a damask print denim and the top portions are lined with the same cotton I used to line the jacket. Unfortunately I didn’t take any photos of the process.

But here is the finished hat! The pieces were sewn together, then I trimmed it with some vintage ribbon and added a few paper flowers to the back.

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And that’s it! The costume is finished! Photos of it all together should be up soon.

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I changed the flower orientation on the hat and clipped the ribbon with pinking sheers at the back – I like it better this way!

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Thanks for reading!

 

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Making a “Simple” Yellow Striped 1790’s Round Robe

I’m not sure how interesting this post will be – I took a lot of photos of the process, and have a lot to say about making this, but the garment itself is kind of boring. But it’s my most recent project, and i’m in the mood to write about it, so here we go!

Last week I decided to start on something new. I had just finished a few projects and wanted to make something simple before starting on the complicated projects I have planned (like the 18th century gown mentioned in this post, and an 1880s bustle dress).

During a clearance sale I picked up eight yards of striped yellow fabric (reduced down to less than two dollars a yard!) which seemed perfect for this season and a simple project. I browsed a few blogs for inspiration and eventually came across a scanned pattern from Norah Waugh’s The Cut of Women’s Clothes: 1600-1930* which depicts a “Round Robe” from the 1790s.

I don’t own the book this pattern comes from, but i’ve heard nothing but good things about it and frequently reference another pattern book by Norah Waugh, which is called Corsets and Crinolines*. So I had high hopes that this pattern would be easy enough to follow, and within a few days I would have a lovely summer dress.

Spoiler alert, that didn’t happen!

I resized the pattern in photoshop, then traced it onto newsprint. The pattern and reference photo i’m using can be seen here, on this blog. I added seam allowances to the pieces and made the bodice panels slightly wider. I also lengthened all the bodice panels by an inch and a quarter so it wouldn’t be as high waisted.

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This is when I encountered pattern problem number one. The sleeve lining pattern was significantly shorter than the sleeve pattern, and a completely different shape. This is sometimes done with puffed sleeves to help hold their shape, but these are straight sleeves that wouldn’t require that. And since the lining was so much shorter, I couldn’t see how the sleeves would be sewn together…which makes me wonder why you would have a different pattern for lining at all.

Not to mention that the sleeves were weirdly long compared to the sketch shown on the pattern. I took more than an inch off of each pattern just to make them look right. I also made the cuffs wider and let them out at the shoulder.

At this point I probably should have realized the pattern might have some issues and made a mock up…but I didn’t do that.

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I cut out the back panel, sewed the darts, and marked all the pleats with stitching.

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The pleats were ironed, the pinned in place and sewn down by hand.

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The pleated panel is supposed to sit overtop a layer of lining, which looks like this…

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But the lining was too big to match up with the pleated panel, so I took it in by a half inch.

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Then a bunch of things happened. I sewed on the straps, and stitched the pleated panel onto the back. I tried to finish the arm holes with lace tape, then turn them inward, but that was a disaster. The fabric had too much tension on it and puckered horribly. I ended up cutting the lace off and attempting to use bias tape as a facing.

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That didn’t look great either, but it was better, so I moved forward and used more bias tape to turn the top edge inward. Then I did a fitting and it was bad. I mean considering I didn’t make a mock up it was okay, but it was pretty uncomfortable at the shoulder, and the arm openings were too tight so they dug into my skin.

Plus the thing looked messy as hell. I wasn’t very excited to wear this or proud of how it was coming along.

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So I started over! Step one was making some pattern alterations. I cut down the arm opening and decided to sew the straps on with smaller seams (giving me an extra inch of room). I also let the sides out slightly and cut my seam allowances down to a half inch instead of three quarters of an inch. This makes changing the fit more difficult, but it should make the fabric less prone to puckering around curved edges.

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This time I constructed things a bit differently. The straps were sewn onto the lining layer right away.

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And I cut a layer of lining for the…uh, lining layer. Which totally makes sense.

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These were sewn together with the right sides facing each other. Then I clipped the curved edges and turned it the right way out. I sewed around each edge with running stitches to prevent the lining from showing (the stitching around the neckline was done by machine, the rest by hand).

The end result was so much better. It looks clean and none of the edges were fraying or puckering like they were on my first attempt!

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I remade the pleated panels using the same method as the first time.

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But I finished the edges of this separately from the edges of the lining. The top and side edges were ironed inward by a half inch, and the curved edges were finished with facings.

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I sewed across the edges by hand and gave the piece a good iron.

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I sewed the front edge of this panel onto the guideline marked on Norah Waugh’s pattern – this was done with slip stitches. But I left the curved and back edges pinned, they won’t be sewn on until after the strap is secured (which I did much earlier on my first attempt but regretted since it made the bodice much harder to work on).

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The bottom edge was finished with bias tape to prevent fraying. Here you can see the front.

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And the back. My pleated panels were a different size from the lining on this attempt as well, so I had to add darts to the lining once again, which you can see on the interior.

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The lining was almost done at this point so I moved onto the overlay for the front panels. These were hemmed by hand with the help of lace tape, and are pleated at the shoulder.

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Once I pinned them in place for a test fitting I ran into a little problem…they were way too short. Since I’d made the strap longer without altering these (they were cut out before I decided to start over) I knew they might be off by a little bit, but one side was off by an inch and the other was off by almost two inches!

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Attempt number two! I made these longer at the hem and let them out at the shoulder. I also decided to make them a bit wider since i’d let out the bodice pattern slightly. Then hemmed them, folded the side edges inward, and pleated the shoulder. This time they were the right length once pinned in place.

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I sewed hooks and bars into the lining before attaching the front panels. The bodice was a bit large in the bust so I sewed the bars in on an angle – the end result doesn’t look very nice, but it works just fine.

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I gathered the bottom edge of the front panels slightly (as shown on the pattern) then pinned them to the lining for a fitting. I’d planned on gathering the panels along the entire length of the hem, but after my fitting I realized that wouldn’t be possible since it caused the top edge to ripple horribly.

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Since I couldn’t gather them down the way I wanted, I had to cut off TONS of fabric from both panels (you can see the pencil marks in this photo).

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I gathered the panels a little bit more, then cut the bottom edges and finished them with bias tape. When I look at the pattern now I think the front panels should have been sewn to the skirt before being sewn to the lining (and then they gather down together with a drawstring…or something?) but it isn’t entirely clear, so maybe I did it right.

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Here is the interior of these panels.

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The panels are pinned so they look like this…

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I sewed the bottom portion down with slip stitches which are pretty much invisible.

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And the top portion is sewn down with large whip stitches.

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Now the bodice looked like this!

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The left side of the bodice secures to the lining with two snaps.

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And the other side hooks in place.

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Now I finally did up the shoulder seam – this was done with the wrong sides facing each other, then I covered the raw edge with the back panel. Sewing down the back panel was the final step. This method for construction went so much better than my first attempt, i’m really glad I started over.

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However I don’t love the end result. I’m happy with the construction, but I think it’s weird that all the bulk is at the side of the bodice. I think it makes me look wider. I much prefer the way it looks on Waugh’s sketch, with gathering all the way across the front…but I don’t see how that’s achieved without disrupting the neckline. I’m actually pretty disappointed by the lack of  gathering at the front – that’s what really attracted me to this pattern in the first place!

I guess this could have been avoided by making a fully functional mock up, but since i’ve had so much luck with corset patterns from this author in the past I assumed the dress patterns would be similarly successful.

I’m proud I managed to overcome pattern related issues, but i’m not sure it was worth the effort. Hopefully i’ll like it when it’s done – I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the sleeves and skirt will be easier.

Photo on 6-21-16 at 12.00 PM

Two notes: I ended up stitching down the pleats at the shoulder because they shifted out of place in the photo above. I also decided after a few fittings to wear this without stays, since it’s pretty comfy without one and fits fine. But I WILL be wearing it a chemise, I just have to make one that’s appropriate for this period!

And that’s it! My boring yet overly complicated, supposedly simple dress. Thanks for reading!

 
 

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