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Category Archives: 19th century

1830’s Plaid Pleated Dress, Photos

Today I have another set of photos to share. Much like the last photos I posted, these have an autumn theme and were taken in a pumpkin patch. I thought it would be make the perfect lighthearted backdrop for a wacky dress like this one, and it did not disappoint!

This was my first time having the whole ensemble on and I was pretty pleased with it – everything fit and was really comfortable. I was a bit concerned the petticoat would show, or that the bonnet would slip around, but neither of those were an issue.

I paired this with my regency stays that I made ages ago, and my “Victorian“* boots. Neither are particularly accurate to this period but helped achieve the silhouette I wanted. I talk more about the petticoats and the construction of this costume in these posts:

Post 1: The Bodice

Post 2: The Sleeves, Skirt, and Bonnet

Before getting into the photos I wanted to mention my last post, where I reviewed a bunch of costume reference books. If you’re interested in any of them this is the time to buy! Amazon has $10 off book purchases, and Barnes & Noble has 15% off your order, which makes the price of those pretty inspiration books a bit easier to manage!

Now onto the photos!

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And some muddy boots after a long morning! Luckily none got on the dress.

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And that’s it! Thanks for reading!

 
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Posted by on November 28, 2016 in 19th century, Completed Costumes

 

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Plaid, Pleats, and Piping – Making an 1830’s Dress, Part Two

This post is about making the sleeves, skirt, and bonnet for an 1830’s ensemble. I posted about making the bodice for this project a few months ago but didn’t finish the ensemble until last week!

I looked at a lot of sleeve examples from the 1830’s but finally decided on something a little silly that would let the plaid really shine – shirring.

I sketched a few designs but ended up making the the sleeves with four portions – two shirred upper portions separated by piping, a loose puffed portion, and the cuff.

The first step was cutting out four sixty inch wide strips. Then I used the lines in the plaid as a guide for gathering the strips down.

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This was very time consuming to do. Each sleeve had seven rows of gathering – that’s 420″ of fabric that had to be gathered down, and that’s just for one sleeve!

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Then I sewed piping onto the bottom edge of each piece.

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The second shirred panel was sewn on, just below the piping.

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Then I trimmed the top of the sleeves so they would fit the armscye.

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The third portion of the sleeves we large rectangles. I turned the bottom few inches of the side edge inward to hide the raw edges, then gathered the top and bottom edges. The top edge was gathered to the width of the shirred panels, and the bottom edge to the width of the cuffs.

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They were sewn on to the shirred panels.

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Then the top portion of the sleeves were lined with cotton to hide the raw edges.

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The cuffs are interfaced rectangles of cotton with the edges ironed inward. Then I sewed piping onto each edge.

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I used whip stitches for this, so the stitching wouldn’t be visible.

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The cuffs were sewn onto the sleeves by hand, with more whip stitches.

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Then lined with cotton. The fabric is lightweight enough that even when gathered down this densely it doesn’t add much bulk to the seam.

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I did up the side seam, then covered the raw edges with plaid bias tape.

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The final step was sewing two hooks and bars into each cuff.

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I sewed the sleeves on by hand, with slip stitches, and then the bodice was complete! I’m pretty happy with this. At first I thought the plaid was too busy, and the shirring looked odd with the pleating, but I got over that and now I think it’s wonderful.

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I didn’t take very many photos of making the skirt since I made it in two hours the night before we photographed this project. But it’s pretty easy to explain since the skirt is just a large rectangle!

I turned the hem inward by a half inch, then inward again by two and a quarter inches. I used a cross/catch stitch for this, and I have a tutorial on the process that can be watched here!

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The top edge was pleated with knife pleats. I originally had the waistline being straight, but after a fitting I realized it was too long in the front. I cut the waistline on an angle so it was two inches shorter in the front than in the back, which leveled the hem.

Then I sewed on the waistband – this was done by machine to save time.

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The back edges were turned inward twice to form a finished edge. Then I sewed hooks and bars in. The back seam was done up with a french seam.

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And that was it for the skirt! I hemmed it to sit nicely over a single cotton and tulle petticoat, along with a weird bum pad I made for an 1880’s dress. This caused it to flare out a bit in the back which wasn’t uncommon in the 1830’s.

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The final piece for this project is a bonnet. I used this as my main reference image and pinned paper onto a wig head until It had the shape I wanted.

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I transferred that onto a new sheet of paper and cleaned up the edges. Then I cut the pattern out from heavyweight interfacing.

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I sewed wire into the edges of each piece, then covered them with velvet.

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The cap portions of the bonnet were lined with scraps of silk taffeta, then sewn together by hand.

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I lined the brim with bright orange silk shantung, which matches the piping on the dress.

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It was sewn in with whip stitches, then sewn onto the cap!

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I’m pretty happy with how the shape turned out, and I love these materials together.

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Since the dress is so wacky I decided to keep the bonnet somewhat simple. It’s decorated with strips of orange silk that form a criss cross pattern with a bow in the back and ends that fall at either side. These can be used as ties, but the bonnet stays in place thanks to a comb pinned into the back of the brim.

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I should have photos of the finished ensemble up soon – we took some in a pumpkin patch, which made a nice backdrop for this fun dress. I just have to finish editing them!

Thanks for reading!

 

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1890’s Day Dress, the “Pumpkin” Gown, Photos

Today I have some photos of my completed Orange Taffeta Dress to share! We photographed it in it’s natural habitat – a pumpkin patch!

These aren’t my favorite costume photos (I probably prefer last years) but I’m just happy we got some that were usable. The day we photographed this it was insanely windy to the point where the dress wouldn’t lay out properly. And since it was so difficult to control the dress I wasn’t comfortable walking in the dusty or potentially muddy areas, which left us with limited background options.

Luckily we managed to get a few I really like – though I would like to get more photos of it in calmer weather in the future, it has a lovely silhouette when it isn’t being battered by wind!

Construction notes about this dress and hat can be found here, here, and here. It was worn over a steel boned 1880’s style corset which was made from a pattern from “Corsets & Crinolines” by Norah Waugh. The skirt is supported by two petticoats that were taken up by three inches the night before this shoot so they would sit properly underneath the skirt. I also wore it with these boots* – you can’t see them in the photos, but they made me feel more authentic which has to count for something.

Now onto the photos!

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This one is my favorite. I love how the light catches the feather, and the waistline makes me feel better about how uncomfortable the stupid corset was!

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The abundance of “looking off into the distance” shots has to do with it being really sunny and that being the only way I could fully open my eyes.

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And that’s it! Thanks for reading – a new “Making of” post should be up tomorrow!

 
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Posted by on November 17, 2016 in 19th century, Completed Costumes

 

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Making an 1890’s Day Dress, the “Pumpkin” Gown, Part Three

It has taken me longer than expected to write this, but I finally have the last “Making of” post about my orange 1890’s dress to share!

Part one can be seen here and shows the making of the bodice. Part two is posted here and focuses on the sleeves. This post will be about the skirt and some of the finishing details. I didn’t take a lot of photos of these steps but hopefully I took enough for it to make sense!

Since I was unhappy with my previous 1890’s skirt attempt I decided to use a pattern for this one. I once again referenced 59 Authentic Turn-of-the-Century Fashion Patterns *, using the pattern from one of the ladies street costumes. Of course I altered it to match my measurements, but the shaping of the pieces is the same.

Here is the finished pattern. The side and back pieces were both cut out twice and the front panel (the narrowest one) was cut on a folded edge of the material.

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After cutting it out from the material I assembled the pieces with french seams and roughly pinned them onto my dress form.
I was originally a bit disappointed by the slim silhouette since SO much fabric went into this skirt, but I liked the shape enough to stick with it.
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I turned the top few inches of the back edge inward twice, so the raw edge was hidden. Then I sewed the edge down. I left this portion of the skirt open and sewed the rest of the back seam normally.

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Then I gathered the back of the skirt by hand.

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The silhouette looked a bit fuller after this, which I was happy with. However I was not happy with the length of this skirt, it’s a whole inch shorter than I had envisioned. There was no room to do the pretty hem I wanted.

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To make things even more annoying, the back was too long and had to be cut down.

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I had to scrap my ideas for a one inch rolled hem and chose to face the hem with some suiting instead. I sewed this on with a quarter inch seam allowance to keep the hem as long as I could.

I don’t think this was a bad idea, but I should have used a lighter (or stiffer) fabric. This one didn’t iron smoothly and the hem ended up looking puckered even though I was very careful when sewing it. It bothers me to the point that I plan on redoing it soon, which is pretty drastic for me!

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After hemming the skirt I sewed loops and buttons onto the top portion of the back seam to keep the opening I left closed. I’m not sure where my pictures of that went, but the process was identical to adding buttons and loops to the sleeves.

Then  I sewed the bodice onto the skirt with the wrong sides facing each other, so the raw edges are on the outside.

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 I covered the raw edges with a waistband that has a pleat running horizontally across it to add interest. It was originally supposed to be gathered but that didn’t look very nice so I pleated it instead!

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The final touch was adding a matching modesty panel to the back to hide the foundation garments that were peeking out from the loops the last time I tried it on.

This is just a rectangle with the edges whip stitched inward, then it was whip stitched to the lining.

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And that was it! Here is the back all done up. Not historically accurate, but I love the buttons and how far down they extend.

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Here is the front.

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A close up of the brooch~

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And pictures of it on the dress form – keep in mind that it doesn’t really fit my dress form, the silhouette is a lot more dramatic when I wear it over a corset.

There is also a bit of petticoat peeking out since the hem was shorter than I had planned. Even though I was annoyed by this, it was kind of a blessing in disguise since it forced me to shorten my petticoats which were all way too long.

Overall I really like this dress. I’m so happy with the fit, and how light it is. The fabric is beautiful and was wonderful to work with – even though the color isn’t my favorite, I like how striking it is. And the button details make me so happy.

The only thing I don’t like is the hem, but I’m confident that can be fixed.

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With the dress discussion done, it’s time to talk about the hat! I’m not the biggest fan of hats from the 1890’s since I feel like they are out of proportion with the full sleeves. I looked through a lot of references and couldn’t find anything inspiring (except for the ones with birds on them…but one bird hat is enough for me, or at least for this year).

At least until I came across this fashion plate – I’m not sure where this is from or if it was even drawn in the 1890’s, but I love how different it is. It’s like a twentieth century bicorne.

I made the base from interfacing.

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I bound the seams by hand, then sewed wire into the edges.

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I made a cap from interfacing too. The cap was covered with brown silk and lined with cotton, then sewn to the brim.

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The brim is covered with brown silk as well, and lined with some leftover orange material.

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For decoration I used a peach ostrich feather across the top.

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And the side is decorated with fake roses, leaves, and some small brown feathers.

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It can be worn in a variety of ways – with the feather facing the front, or either side. I ended up wearing it like this and pinning a comb into the cap to keep it in place.

And speaking of hats, I wanted to take a minute to mention the video I made about all my hats. It shows them in detail, along with how they look worn and a bit about the construction process/period they come from. If you like hats, you might enjoy it! It can be watched here.

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And I think that’s it for this post! The dress is done, the hat is done, and so are all the things that go underneath them. I’ve already photographed this project (in its natural habitat, a pumpkin patch) and as soon as I get done editing  I will post them too!

Thanks for reading!

 

 

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Making an 1890’s Day Dress, the “Pumpkin” Gown, Part Two

Making an 1890’s Day Dress, the “Pumpkin” Gown, Part Two

Today I have the second post about making my 1890’s dress to share. Part one can be read here and covers how I made the bodice. This post will be all about my nemesis: sleeves.

When I made my first 1890’s dress I drafted the sleeve pattern myself and came up with something usable, but it wasn’t accurate at all. I have a habit of making sleeve patterns symmetrical, which is bad since they don’t cup the arm as well.

So this time around I decided to copy a pattern from  59 Authentic Turn-of-the-Century Fashion Patterns*, specifically the sleeve pattern associated with this dress.

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The pattern consists of a large “puff” portion which is attached overtop a fitted sleeve. It’s a really strange design, but I thought it would be fun to try. Unfortunately the first mock up didn’t go well. The fitted portions didn’t really fit and the puff portion was tiny, the sleeves had barely any volume. I’m also not completely sure how you are supposed to attach the puff portion to the fitted sleeve.

Soo I made some alterations. I made the puff portion a good six inches wider and longer. I cut the fitted sleeves off at the elbow and added seam allowance so they could be sewn together after attaching the puff. And I made them a bit smaller.

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I cut the lining for the sleeves out of muslin, then used the muslin as a guide for cutting out the taffeta. To avoid the lining bunching underneath the taffeta I cut the taffeta pieces to be slightly larger than the lining.

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I sewed these pieces together with half inch seam allowances but left the bottom few inches of one seam open since that’s where the closures will be.

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The edges of the portion left open were basted down and the bottom edge was hemmed by hand.

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I also ran basting stitches across the top edge to keep the lining in place.

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Then I sewed loops and buttons onto the sleeves. The the lining was whip stitched to the interior of the taffeta, so it covers the raw edges of the loops. The buttons are all sewn on with upholstery thread since I was kind of concerned about the strain they would go through when trying to button these up!

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I cut the puffed portions of the sleeves out, then gathered down the top and bottom edge. when they were gathered most of the way down I sewed them to the muslin lining, which is the top portion of the fitted sleeves.

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In between the muslin and taffeta I stuffed gathered strips of organza to help the sleeves hold their shape.

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Now the sleeves were a bit too poofy. They looked good when they were carefully arranged, but they didn’t stay looking that way for long. I ended up ripping out the gathering stitches at the shoulder, then cutting off more than three inches from the top of the sleeve.

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Then I sewed the top and bottom portions together. This seam was covered with bias tape. And now I had things that actually looked like sleeves!

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They are so poofy.

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I gathered the tops down to be even smaller.

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And then I sewed them onto the bodice by machine. Unfortunately after doing that I realized I couldn’t bind the arm opening without making the opening too small, so i’ve left the edges raw, which really isn’t ideal. But the sleeves were cut on the fabrics bias so they don’t fray that much. Hopefully it will be okay for the limited amount of wear this will get.

On the bright side, they fit! They have a habit of puckering around the wrist (I may have made them slightly too small) but I think they look pretty good!

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Please ignore the color this dress has in this lighting, it looks far less noxious in every other setting.

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I need to add a modesty panel, but i’m so happy with the back of this costume. All those cute buttons!

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To finish off the bodice I sewed together three bias cut strips, then turned the edges inward by hand.

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I sewed it onto the collar, leaving the ends long so they can be tied in a bow. The back of the collar closes with three hooks and eyes before the bow is tied. The final detail was that brooch I mentioned in my last post!

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The final post about this project should be up in a week or two! And it will go over making the skirt and the hat.

Thanks for reading!

 

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Plaid, Pleats, and Piping – Making an 1830’s Dress, Part One

Plaid, Pleats, and Piping – Making an 1830’s Dress, Part One

This weeks post is about another new project, but this time i’m venturing into an era I haven’t sewn from in a while – the 1830’s! I went through a phase a couple years ago where I made three dresses inspired by this period, and I had so much fun making them. But for some reason I never revisited the period until now.

For Christmas I got Fashion: A History from the 18th to the 20th Century*, and looking at the silly 1830’s dresses featured in it reminded me how much I love the period. The dresses make me so happy, with the bold prints, large skirts, ridiculous sleeves, and delicate accessories. I still can’t get on board with the crazy headpieces, but I love everything else.

So when I was in Pennsylvania and came across a bright cotton plaid I knew it was time to make a boldly printed ridiculous 1830’s dress. This is the material was four dollars a yard, and I bought seven yards.

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I’m going to pair it with the orange taffeta leftover from my 1890’s Dress, and some berry colored velvet I got in NYC a while back.

When it comes to design I was a little bit conflicted. I originally wanted to make something based on this kooky dress, but the neckline and sleeves are quite similar to a dress I made in the past so that seemed kind of boring. And most of the other dresses I found were better suited for a less busy fabric.

I ended up mixing the dress linked above with the bodice design of this dress – I really like the piping, basque waist, the neckline, and the more elaborate sleeves. All those things make it more time consuming to make, but you know how much I love time consuming projects…

Here is my weird sketch which I didn’t really end up following (oops)
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I draped the pattern on my dress form, then transferred it to paper. The bodice is made up of 8 pieces, with an additional 4 pieces for the collar.

In the past when doing pleated collars I’ve pleated a rectangle of fabric, then cut it down to the shape I want. This time around I cut it down to the right size before pleating – which was kind of scary, since I was sure it would turn out the wrong shape. But it totally worked and made the process a lot easier, so i’m definitely doing it this way from now on!

I marked the pleat pattern onto the collar with chalk.
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Then used my iron to crease the tops of the pleats.

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Then actually pleated them and pinned everything in place! This is the front.

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And this is the back.

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The front panels were carefully pinned, then sewn together. It was unintentional, but the horizontal pattern ended up being almost symmetrical on these panels. They didn’t match up the first time I sewed it, but they were so close that I ripped the seam out and redid it so they match!

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The shoulder of the collar pieces were done up with piping sewn into the seam. The bottom edge was hemmed by eye, and the top edge was turned inward by a half inch. Then I hand stitched some piping around the neckline.

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To keep the pleats in place I loosely tacked them down from the underside. This was trickier to do than I was expecting. Since the fabric is so thin I couldn’t feel how many layers I was stitching through, and I ended up sewing through the front of the fabric a few times. Those stitches are pretty obvious since I used dark purple thread, which doesn’t match 80% of the colors in the bodice.

Luckily the crazy print also works to my benefit  – your eye skips over the visible stitches and assumes it’s part of the chaos that is this fabric!

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With the collar done the bodice assembly began! I made this more difficult by adding piping to every seam (something I’ve never done before). And I chose to use yarn as piping cord, which was way too thin and looked flat after being ironed. Not my best decision, but I kind of made it work!

These are the front panels…

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More front panels.

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And the back panels!

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The arm openings were finished with facings.

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And then the collar was sewn on! This was done by hand to avoid any visible topstitching.

After a quick fitting to check the length I hemmed the bottom edge and trimmed it with more piping.

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And now it was time for lining! This was assembled completely by machine and is made from muslin.

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It took me ages to get it pinned in properly – somehow the lining was too short, so it kept causing the front layer of fabric to bunch up. But I managed eventually, and sewed it in place by hand.

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I finished one of the back edges with bias tape (leftover from my 1890’s dress), then finished the other edge with a strip of bias tape that was turned inward and sewn down so it isn’t visible from the outside.

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The back closure consists of hooks and loops, which were sewn to the strips of taffeta.

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Unfortunately the print on the back of the bodice doesn’t line up perfectly, but it’s close-ish!

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Here is the front.

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And a close up of the pretty pleats! So far i’m happy with how this looks, though i’m second guessing my decision to go for a more complicated design. I think it might be a bit too busy – but the 1830’s were famous for being crazy, so maybe it works?

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That’s it for today! The next post will be about sleeves. I’m not sure if it will be about my 1890’s dress or this one, but it will definitely involve sleeves haha!

Thanks for reading!

 

 
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Posted by on September 9, 2016 in 19th century, Historically Inspired

 

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Making an 1890’s Day Dress, the “Pumpkin” Gown, Part One

Today I’ll be talking about making another 1890’s day dress from taffeta. But this time around my posts will be a lot more positive since i’ve already finished this dress and i’m really happy with the end result. The finished dress actually fits, and isn’t too long, which might be a first for me!

Before talking about construction I wanted to explain the design of this, because if you’ve seen the movie Crimson Peak it may look familiar!

If you read this blog post you’ll know my foray into 1890’s fashion was originally inspired by what Edith wore in the film, specifically this gorgeous coat. Back in January I bought fabric for a coat based on that design, and material for a dress to wear underneath it. Even though I really liked the dress Edith wore with the jacket in the film, I chose to create an original design instead.

And it failed horribly.

The design wasn’t the reason why that project failed, but I didn’t want to be reminded of it when attempting another project from this period. So I settled on a simpler design, which features the most common skirt and bodice design from the 1890’s, and the signature puff sleeves. You can see similar designs in Victorian Fashions and Costumes from Harper’s Bazar* which I had open while sketching this ensemble.

Since my last dress was very heavy I chose to leave this one free of embellishments and trim, with the only decoration being buttons down the front and a brooch. This was the only thing I intended on copying from the dress in Crimson Peak. But when I compared my sketch to the costume from the film, I realized they were pretty much identical!

This was made even more apparent because the fabric I purchased for this project is quite similar to what was used for Edith’s dress. But I like the design, and I like the dress from the film, so i’m okay with them being really similar, even if that wasn’t my original intention.

As I said, I used Victorian Fashions and Costumes from Harper’s Bazar* as a reference, along with a bunch of things i’ve pinned and the gown from the film.

I purchased seven yards of an orange silk for this dress, and plan on wearing it with this beautiful moth brooch I got for two dollars on ebay. I’ve been wanting to include it in a costume for ages, and I feel like this is my chance – even though brooches this bold aren’t really historically accurate, ecspecially on a day ensemble.

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And a more developed sketch.

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 I started off by draping the pattern. It’s a pretty simple design, but it took a bit of fiddling to get the amount of volume I wanted while keeping the shoulder and sides perfectly smooth.

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Here you can see it transferred to paper with the seam allowances added. This picture was taken after I made my first mock up and some pattern changes. Those changes included making the waistband longer, taking the collar in by an inch, adding a dart to the front, and raising the waistline.

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Just to be safe, since the fit of my first 1890’s day dress was so bad, I decided to cut out and assemble the lining of the bodice first. This would serve as a second mock up of sorts, and allow me to make minor changes before cutting into the silk. I’m SO glad I did this, because some weird issues popped up.

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The collar was too big (I think I took it in by a full inch), the gathers at the front were gaping, and there was a lot of wrinkling and bunching in collarbone/shoulder area. The wrinkling was weird, since every other part of the bodice seemed to fit fine.

I couldn’t find a solution online, or in Patternmaking for Fashion Design* (which everyone says has all the answers) but luckily I found a handy diagram in one of the 1920’s textbooks from the Woman’s Institute of Domestic Arts and Sciences which my Great Aunt gave me.

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I was skeptical about their solution, since the shoulder seam fit quite tightly, and if anything there was more excess fabric near the collar than the shoulder, but it totally worked! The shoulder seam just needed to be on more of an angle. I guess I’ve never run into this problem before since I don’t make high collar bodices very often.

In addition to that, I also took the collar in and sewed a strip of material across the front to control the gathers. In the future I would make a separate lining pattern that isn’t gathered, which would avoid this problem.

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Here you can see the strip I sewed to the front. After this was done I tried the bodice on again, and it fit well enough that I felt comfortable with moving forward. So I sewed a few boning channels into the lining, then filled them with plastic bones.

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It’s the wrong fabric and color, but it looks the way I wanted!

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Now I cut the bodice out from silk. Here is the front panel before I gathered it down.

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And here it is after being gathered!

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And sewn onto the back panels – can we just take a moment to appreciate how the seams on this fabric are practically invisible? I was so worried about making a full dress from silk, since the last silk I used was a VERY finicky dupioni that puckered horribly any time a needle passed through it.  But this fabric doesn’t have that issue, It sews beautifully and seams disappear after ironing.

Plus it has a gorgeous two tone look to it, and the weight is perfect – light enough that it is easy to manipulate, but heavy enough that I didn’t have to interface or flat line it. I want to own this fabric in every color and use it for everything, it’s wonderful.

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I sewed up the shoulder seams and added the waistband. Notice how the front and back panels have the same sheen to them? That’s because I paid attention to grainlines this time around…

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And a quick test on the dress form to make sure the gathered looked okay.

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Now it was time to add the closures. I chose to make the dress close down the back, and decided to go for something that would be decorative and functional: buttons and loops. I don’t think this is historically accurate, but i’ve wanted to make a dress with this type of closure for years and this seemed like a perfect opportunity.

To make the loops I cut out one inch wide strips of silk on the fabrics bias. Then I sewed them into tubes with a quarter inch seam allowance.

When it came to turning the tubes the right way out, things got tricky. I tried to turn the first one by hand, with the help of pliers. Which worked, but damaged the fabric and took ages – like three hours to finish one thirty inch long tube. It was ridiculous. For the other two I used the safety pin method of pinning it to one end, then threading it through the tube and pulling it out the other side. This worked way better and took less than ten minutes, so I should have done that in the first place!

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I ended up cutting the tubes into two inch lengths, then ironing them into the shape seen below. These were pinned onto ribbon, then sewn to the ribbon by machine.

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The ribbon was then pinned onto the back of the bodice.

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And sewn on by hand. Not my prettiest hand work, but I went over each loop several times to make sure they are really secure.

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With the loops on, I went ahead and sewed in the lining.

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Now it was starting to look like something!

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But it was still missing all the buttons, which meant I had to make some. I bought a tool for covering 5/8″ buttons, along with fifty loop back sets. These were purchased on etsy for a grand total of nine bucks.

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A few hours later I had an adequate number of buttons. Though I had to make more later for the sleeves and skirt.

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Buttons were sewn onto the back, which unfortunately I didn’t take a picture of, and the front, which looks like this!

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The gathered front of the bodice has a tendency to flop over and hide my beautiful buttons, so I’ll have to do something to fix that. But aside from that I really like it! I love how clean it looks, with the focus being on the color and buttons. It’s interesting working on something that is so bold (a lot bolder than my usual projects) yet really simple by comparison.

Speaking of that bold color, i’ve nicknamed this the pumpkin dress because of it! The color probably reminds me of cheetos more than pumpkins, but I think “pumpkin” is a slightly more glamorous name for it.

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And that’s it for this post! Thanks for reading!

 

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Making a Taffeta Dress, 1890’s Inspired, Part Three

This is one of those posts i’ve put off writing (much like all the posts to do with this dress…) since this didn’t turn out the way I’d hoped. Which is disappointing, but not surprising to me. A dress this simple shouldn’t take six months of on and off work to complete. The fact that it took so long shows me that I wasn’t excited to work on it, and there is usually a reason for that!

Like the dress being a total failure. Okay I learned some stuff, so it isn’t a total failure. But it’s pretty close.

The last post about this project showed the making of the skirt, and the post before that shows the construction of the bodice. Which means all I had left to do was make the sleeves. I started by drafting a simple wrist to elbow pattern, with a point at the center.

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The other portion of the sleeve is a massive rectangular-ish block that will be gathered down into a very full puff sleeve. You can tell I drafted these myself because they are symmetrical (rather than having a steeper curve at the front, and a more gradual one at the back) which is very unusual for historical sleeve patterns (and sleeves in general).

It’s also a bit unusual to draft sleeves from this period with a seam between the lower and upper portions. I chose to do this since the original plan was to wear this dress underneath a jacket, and I wanted to avoid additional bulk around the wrists which mutton leg sleeves tend to have.

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The puff sleeves were bag lined with the lightest weight lining I could find.

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Then turned the right way out and gathered across the bottom edge.

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I added interfacing to the points of the lower sleeves, so that edge would stay defined. Then I turned the top edge inward by a half inch and stitched it down by hand.

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I trimmed the top edge with lace, then stitched it onto the sleeve.

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The sleeves seemed to be missing something, so I chose to do a bit of beading. The beading design is the same one I used on the neckline of the bodice.

I also ended up making a tutorial on how to do this, if you’re interested it can be watched here!

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Now the back seam was done up with a half inch seam allowance and I lined the lower portion of the sleeve.

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I actually really like how these turned out – even though the fit isn’t the best. I think the beading design compliments this fabric nicely and the sleeves are perfectly puffy.

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I made the decision to leave the hem of the sleeves raw since I had originally planned on adding cuffs. The cuffs were supposed to be made from these beautiful satin collar pieces that have a winding soutache pattern on them.

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I even spend many hours beading the design to make them more elaborate. I love how they turned out, but they ended up being too large and bulky for this costume. They cut the arm off in a weird way and look too stark against the purple. So they have been stashed away and are being saved for another day.

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Then I gathered the top edge of the sleeves down and played around with some quilt batting to make sure they could take on the shape I wanted.

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And finally, they were sewn onto the bodice by hand. This was a pain the ass since polyester taffeta sucks to hand stitch through. It’s so densely woven that the eye of the needle seemed to prefer going through my finger rather than the fabric. But I got there in the end! At this point it actually looked pretty good.

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Here is the bodice tried on over the original partial shirtwaist thing. I decided after this fitting that it was too casual looking, so I made a new one from silk satin.

This is also when I realized that there were some big fit issues. I’m not sure if you can tell, but it was very tight across the chest. Not to a point where it strained, but the it was obvious in person that it was too small. Because of this the bodice couldn’t be pulled down far enough for it to sit at the proper waistline. I kind of ignored these issues at the time – I thought once the skirt was on it would pull the bodice down and it would be fine.

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Since the bodice wasn’t where it was supposed to be, it gives and awkward side profile as well. The volume is supposed to be right above the waist, which makes the waist look smaller. But this just made the area below my chest look massive. Once again I assumed it would be fine after attaching the skirt.

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And the back. This looked a lot worse in person, too. The back panels were cut on a different grainline from the rest of the bodice, and the difference in sheen was very obvious. It also strained horribly across the back. This is partially because it’s a bit too small, but I think flatlining it with a different fabric would have avoided this. Polyester taffeta just doesn’t look good when strained.

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After this fitting – and making a different garment to wear underneath it, I switched out the buttons for vintage glass buttons that matched the beading. A much better fit than the gold ones I used before!

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The skirt and bodice were both sewn onto a strip of interfaced cotton, with the raw edges facing outward. The waistband will cover these edges.

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And speaking of the waistband, that was made from a pattern that looked like this!

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My first attempt was lined with flannel (why did I do that?) and was also too small. The second attempt was lined with cotton and a half inch bigger, which made a huge difference! This was sewn onto the dress by hand, and that was IT for the dress.

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Unfortunately sewing it all together didn’t magically fix the bodice fit issues. It’s really tight across the chest. Like a whole inch too tight. I can wear it, but it  can’t be pulled down low enough for the belt to sit at my actual waistline. The waist of the dress is too small as well – To get it done up I had to wear it with my 1860’s corset, which is too short waisted for the dress to sit nicely overtop of it.

Also the closure method for this dress was stupid. I decided to add hooks down the side, with buttons down half the back. If this had worked, it would have meant I could get into the dress without help. But the back didn’t open enough, and I ended up needing help just to get it over my head! Plus the lack of mobility from the sleeves meant I couldn’t do up the closures.

And that’s not even mentioning the puckering at the back and hem length. One of those things is fixable, but i’m not sure I can be bothered.

Here it is worn without the undershirt.

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The closures on the side didn’t end up being hidden, since the bodice was tight the hooks (though done up) caused the fabric to gape. You can slo see the strap of the bodice sitting away from my shoulder, which is because the bodice can’t be pulled down properly.

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The dress is too long waisted in the back, causing the puckers to look even worse. But on the bright side, I really like the gathers at the back of the skirt. They looked a bit rough up close but I would consider using that technique again on a different project.

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Is this dress fixable? Probably. But it would involve removing the sleeves and skirt, adding panels to the side of the bodice (though there is enough room to let it out, this fabric shows needle marks), adding additional closures to the back of the bodice/switching the skirt to a back closure, regathering the skirt, and hemming it. And it’s really not worth the time and effort that would take.

Looking back it’s easy for me to see where this dress went wrong – there were a lot of poor decisions and mistakes, one after the other. But it happens sometimes – ecspecially when learning, and adventuring into a new era so i’m not going to mope about it.

I’m actually really excited to put what I learned from this project into a attempting a better dress, which will have a similar silhouette and belong to the same era, but is a completely different design (that resembles the original inspiration for this dress quite closely). But i’ll talk more about that next week!

Before signing off I just wanted to show you the hat I made to pair with this. I based it on an edwardian design since I thought a larger hat would look better with the proprotions of this dress, even though it isn’t accurate to the 1890’s. The brim is buckram with three bands of wire.

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And the cap is interfacing, cut from this pattern and edged with wire.

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All the pieces were covered with taffeta and stitched together.

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The interior is lined with muslin, and the brim is lined with gathered tulle and satin ribbon.

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The exterior is trimmed with some fake flowers and a huge feather! The hat is honestly my favorite part of this project – I feel like I magically turn into a stuffy rich old lady when I wear it. And I mean that in the best way.

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This was my first time using leaves on a hat in addition to the flowers, but I really like it. It doesn’t make the flowers look more realistic exactly, but it certainly adds more interest!

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And that’s it! Thanks for reading!

 

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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