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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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