The Sunflower Gown : Making a 1830’s Dress

Last Thursday I drove by the prettiest sunflower field, and was overwhelmed with the desire to make something inspired by it.

I also wanted to make something that could be photographed in the field.

Unfortunately, sunflower season is really short and I didn’t expect them to be around for another week.

Which meant I had to make a dress that week.

So I did!

I did the pattern drafting on Friday, and actual construction started on Saturday. I had the dress and a headpiece done and ready to be photographed by Sunday evening.

I think it turned out pretty well for two days of work!

resize

The idea for this was very much shaped by the fabric I had in my stash. In fact, at first I didn’t think I had any fabric that would be suitable for a sunflowery historical gown. I was planning on making a few 1950’s pieces in autumn tones that would suit the backdrop, and that is what I spent a good chunk of Thursday/Friday working on. But the further along I got, the more I wanted to make something historical instead.

So I went through my stash and came across a recently purchased silk shantung. I would lovingly call this fabric baby poop colored…But I still bought it, because it has a very strong gold/green shift, which is striking when light hits it.

It isn’t exactly sunflower colored – but it has yellow, green and black tones in it which is reminiscent.

sunflowers (10 of 27)

This was my original sketch, along with some skirt variations.

I designed this without researching references, but I did look to Costume in Detail* for construction notes regarding 1830’s dresses, which ended up being very helpful!

sunflowers (3 of 36)

The parts I was most excited about (like the big sleeves and gold petal overlays) ended up in the finished dress. But other plans had to be dropped due to fabric and time limitations.

Remember, I only had two days, and six yards of fabric, which isn’t a lot for a historical gown!

sunflowers (36 of 36)

The first idea I dropped, was the plan of having a pleated bertha collar. I decided it took too much fabric and time to create. Instead I draped and off the shoulder bodice which was shaped with gathering at the front and shoulder.

sunflowers (1 of 36)

sunflowers (2 of 36)

I made a mockup for this, then got everything transferred to paper. I also drafted the sleeves right away, which is rare for me. I tend to leave sleeves for last (as in, after the whole bodice is done) because I hate them so much. But there was no time to procrastinate!

sunflowers (32 of 36)

sunflowers (31 of 36)

The bodice pattern was cut out twice – once from a floral cotton which will serve as lining, and again from the silk. Boning channels were stitched into the seam allowance at the sides of the lining, and at the center seam.

sunflowers (4 of 36)

I stitched the layers together, with the right sides facing each other, all the way across the neckline.sunflowers (5 of 36)

I ironed the lining inward and stitched around the neckline by hand. At this point the side seams were still left open. And I wanted to leave them open until after sewing the sleeves on. Which meant I had to make sleeves.

sunflowers (13 of 36)

I cut the sleeves out from a layer of black cotton sateen, and a layer of floral embroidered glitter mesh.

I’m SO glad I remembered that I had this fabric in my stash. I don’t own a lot of black material and was quite frantic trying to find something for the sleeves that had a lot of texture, but wasn’t too thick or heavy (my previous candidate was velvet, which is both thick and heavy).

This ended up being perfect, and I had just enough left to work as an overlay.

sunflowers (7 of 36)

The sleeves were gathered down by hand. Originally I wanted these to be pleated, but I thought having pleated sleeves with a gathered bodice would look strange. So I gathered them instead.sunflowers (9 of 36)

I was going to pad these to get the amount of volume I wanted, but I decided to try stitching ribbon in first to see if that would help. I’m not sure what this is called (sleeve stays, maybe?) but it is often shown in sewing books.

The ribbon forces the sleeves to stay a certain length, which prevents them from sliding down the arm and losing their poof. These sleeves were about 13″ long in the center. And the longest piece of ribbon is 7″.

I didn’t have high hopes that this would work based on my test fitting…but it totally did! No need for sleeve pads here!

 

sunflowers (10 of 36)

But the sleeves weren’t done! I wanted the gold fabric to lay overtop of the puffed portion, almost like flower petals.

These petals were created with half circles of fabric, in various sizes.

sunflowers (11 of 36)

Each half circle was folded in half, and stitched together to form a quarter circle shape. The quarters were turned right side out and ironed. Then the rounded edge was gathered down by hand until it was an inch or two long.

Five of these will be used on each sleeve, which the longest petal at the center of the shoulder.

sunflowers (12 of 36)

This was stitched onto the top edge of the sleeve. I also finished the lower edge of the sleeves with matching gold piping.

sunflowers (14 of 36)

The lower edge looks a bit messy from the interior, and the top edge is kind of…uh…girthy? It’s almost a cm thick at points! So I decided not to finish this edge, since any stitching or binding would just add to that.

sunflowers (15 of 36)

Even though it was quite thick, my sewing machine stitched through it like a champ.

Once the sleeves were on, I sewed up the side seams. I also added boning to the front seam (it stops just below the gathering) and the side seams. Leaving me with this!

It looked so much better than I had expected it would – which really got me feeling excited about the project!

sunflowers (16 of 36)

Though the sleeves were the hard part of this project, they were made easier by the fact I had a clear vision. Where my thoughts towards the skirt were murky at best.

I knew I wanted some visual interest on the skirt – I recently made two 1840’s dresses with plain rectangle skirts, and I’m a bit bored with them. Not the shape, just the lack of trimming.

And the 30’s were famous from elaborately trimmed skirts, so I felt this project would be incomplete without something.

My first idea was pintucking the skirt, then decorating it with sunflowers. But the skirt would have been too short if I did that (I was working with the fabrics horizontal width for the skirt, about 45″).

Then I decided to trim the hem with large triangles, made from black velvet and piped with matching shantung. These could be stitched to the underside of the hem and turn outward, like petals. They could also serve as frames for hand made sunflowers. This idea is seen in my original sketch.

sunflowers (35 of 36)

I was pretty committed to this idea, so much so that I wasted 1/2 yard of my precious silk to create the piping. I also cut out a dozen velvet triangles, and  poly shantung for lining.

sunflowers (6 of 36)

The piping was stitched to the lining, with the wrong sides facing outward. Then velvet was pinned on top with the edges tucked inward, covering the frayed edges of the shantung.

These looked OK, but I didn’t love it. The velvet lacked texture since it was so dark, and the piping blended into the skirt. I thought it was too harsh and clashed with the bodice. sunflowers (33 of 36)

So I decided to dress the skirt up with lace instead. I had 12 yards of 7″ wide chantilly lace that I bought on etsy a while back. I figured I could sacrifice a few yards for this, and still have enough leftover for a civil war era gown (which I’m pretty sure was my original intention for it).

sunflowers (20 of 36)

Despite my intentions for something different, the skirt for this was just a rectangle. But I had a reason for it! On top of fabric limitations, this fabric has a very different sheen and coloring depending on the grain line. Cutting the skirt as a rectangle means the grain is the same all the way across, and ensures the sheen will look even.

The rectangle for this was 3.5 yards wide, and the full width of the fabric.

I marked a line two inches away from the selvedge, and ironed the lower edge up so it touched that line.

sunflowers (17 of 36)sunflowers (18 of 36)

Then I hemmed it with a super sloppy, very wide catch stitch.

sunflowers (19 of 36)

The chantilly lace was placed 6.5″ away from the finished hem, and stitched on by hand with running stitches. sunflowers (21 of 36)

The top edge was gathered down by hand to match the waist of the bodice, then stitched on by machine.

sunflowers (23 of 36)

After that, I turned the back edges inward. I had about 1.5″ of allowance on either edge, but I wanted them to overlap so I wouldn’t have to add a modesty panel. I also wanted to stitch boning into both edges without any visible topstitching.

I honestly don’t even remember how I went about doing this, but I know the end result was far from symmetrical and not too pretty in terms of construction. But it looked okay from the outside…which is all I can really ask for when making a dress in two days!

sunflowers (27 of 36)

I stitched hooks and bars into the back to serve as closures.sunflowers (26 of 36)

I also added a belt. I debated about this a lot, but strongly felt the dress needed something to break up the bodice and skirt. I pinned a velvet waistband on first, but wanted something with more texture. So I ended up making a waistband from black cotton sateen, then fussy cutting bits of beaded lace out and stitching them on.

This looks a bit messy up close since the lace has a large wandering floral pattern, and really isn’t made to be cut into tiny pieces. But from a distance it still has visible texture and adds a bit of sparkly!

sunflowers (25 of 36)

Now with my limited fabric and time remaining, I decided to make sunflowers. These were created from dozens of 4″ wide circles. Each one was cut out, then ironed into quarters. Like with the sleeves, the curved edge is gathered down.

Except this time they were sewn on to a circular base of interfacing.

sunflowers (24 of 36)

The bases were covered with velvet, and more butchered black lace. I wanted the centers to have a lot of texture to mimic sunflowers, but I didn’t have time (or enough black beads) to embellish the centers fully.

The lace was a way to quickly get the effect I wanted, and it worked perfectly!

The lace had to be stitched on by hand, and while I was at it I stitched on some larger black beads, and some gold sequins. The sequins were a random addition because I love sequins. But I’m so glad I decided to use them, the contrast of the gold against the black makes them look lit up, regardless of the lighting.sunflowers (22 of 36)

I pinned the sunflowers onto the dress while it was on my form, before sewing up the back seam. This way I could remove the dress from the form and stitch the flowers on while the skirt was completely flat.

Even though that made the sewing process easier, I didn’t do the best job of this. They were *really* roughly stitched on with whip stitches at the underside of the fabric. I tried to stitch through the edge of the interfacing centers, since that is the heaviest part of the flowers.

I wish the stitching was cleaner, but I’m actually pleased with the placement of the stitches. Since I didn’t tack down the petals, they flip outward slightly, making them look more natural. sunflowers (29 of 36)sunflowers (28 of 36)

That was the dress done! But I knew I wanted to make a headpiece too.

This ended up consisting of two gathered strips of the black mesh, and a bunch of the small flower “petals”. These were stitched into a a single strip.

sunflowers (30 of 36)

That I hot glued onto a headband and backed with boning and felt. Am I proud of the quantity of hot glue on this? No. But it looked good in photos and took less than 10 minutes to make.

The “finishing touches” included pinning my petticoats so they hung above my ankle. And pinning fabric sunflowers onto my funtasma shoes* so it was less obvious that I don’t have any 1830’s appropriate footwear.

1830’s footwear is supposedly the easiest to fake, since they wore square toed flats. But I do not own a single pair of flats because they make my feet look massive.

IMG_4757

And that was it! Also for those curious, this was worn over my recently completed 1840’s corset based on a pattern from Norah Waugh’s Corsets and Crinolines*. I have a couple  photos of this on instagram (here, here, and here) and I can vouch for this pattern being awesome – I love the shape of it, and it is pretty comfy!

For petticoats, I wore a cotton/net full length petti that I made a few years ago. It is full length, so I had to pin it up by about 6″ for this photoshoot. And that was stacked on top of two knee length tulle petticoats (specifically, this one).

I’ve been really unhappy with the volume in my other 40s/30s skirts and I thought this would be a good solution. And I was right, look at that poof!

resizeI’ll post the full photoset tomorrow.

And as always, thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed!

 

1840’s Dotted Dress, Photos

I think this is my first costume photo set of the year. How wild is that?!

These were taken a location we visit often – conveniently right next to a busy street where people can stare, and unruly patches of poison ivy. But there is fence and sometimes cute horses, so sacrifices must be made.

These photos are of my 1840’s dotted dress, which I made over the course of a week and have spent the last month blogging about. You can read about the construction in more detail here, here, and here!

This project was based on examples from the 1840s, and made from eight yards of quilting cotton using a self drafted pattern.

Unfortunately my giant organza petticoat wasn’t done at the time I photographed this – so the skirt is lacking some of the fullness I had hoped for. But I don’t think that takes away from the pictures too much. Or at least I hope not!

1840.red.dot (2 of 13)

1840.red.dot (6 of 13)

1840.red.dot (7 of 13)

My least favorite part of this dress is the back – I feel like the fit problems I mentioned in my making of posts are a lot more obvious here. Taking it in at the back seam would help a lot, but the waistline should be raised slightly too.

Thanks to the way I stitched the skirt on, that would be an easy fix. I don’t like returning to “finished” dresses, but maybe when the weather cools down I’ll be  motivated to do that – and re photograph it with my fuller petticoat!

1840.red.dot (10 of 13)

1840.red.dot (1 of 13)

1840.red.dot (9 of 13)1840.red.dot (13 of 13)

Despite my annoyance with making the bonnet, I do love the profile it has!

1840.red.dot (12 of 13)

And I like this photo almost enough to ignore all the rippling at the back (okay, not quite, but close)!

1840.red.dot (11 of 13)

And that is it!

Thank you for reading, and for all the comments on my posts about making this. I’m looking forward to sharing some other photo sets (and progress posts) very soon!

1840’s Dotted Dress – Part Three

Today I have the final post about making my orange 1840’s dress to share! I planned on this going up sooner…but we all know how my blog plans go (the don’t).

However I can promise that this post will be followed by one with photos of the finished garment when worn!

The last post ended with a finished bodice – (if you missed that post, it can be read here) but there was more work to be done! Like making the skirt, and a matching headpiece.

Because you need a matching headpiece.

The skirt was really easy – it’s just three 42″ wide panels seamed together, hemmed, and gathered down to match the waist measurement of the bodice.

Resize (34 of 51)

After stitching the pieces together I folded the bottom edge inward by a half inch.

Resize (37 of 51)

Then I folded the bottom edge inward by three inches, and stitched it down by hand to avoid visible topstitching.

Resize (38 of 51)

Resize (41 of 51)

Since the skirt was three panels, and evenly gathered, a seam didn’t fall at the center back. So I had to slash one of the panels and finish the opening with bias binding. This will line up with the back opening of the bodice and allow me to easily get the dress on and off.

Resize (35 of 51)

The top edge was gathered down.

Resize (42 of 51)

I turned the bottom edge of the bodice inward by a half inch. Then topstitched the skirt to the right side of the bodice. The raw edges were all hidden by a band stitched to the outside of the bodice. This was visible on the extant garment I referenced, which is why I chose to do it this way.

lightroom (10 of 15)

I ended up sewing the skirt on kind of unevenly – but it was intentional! this way it rests a little higher at the front.

lightroom (5 of 15)

That finished off the dress! Overall, I’m happy with this. However the fit could use some work (I would say it is a full inch too big) and it really needs a modesty panel. Since I used hooks and loops, my foundations were slightly visible at the back.

But as I said in my last post, I’m going to resolve that by swapping the loops out with bars, and having the back edge overlap by an inch (this will fix the fit, too!).

lightroom (8 of 15)

lightroom (6 of 15)

I think my favorite part of this dress are the gathers – I love the effect of hand stitched, dense gathers, and they are plentiful on this dress!

lightroom (12 of 15)

I’m also happy that I’ve finally (somewhat) successfully executed the tiny piping which was so popular during this period. It makes me feel more confident about some 1810-1820s pieces I’ve wanted to make for a while!

lightroom (9 of 15)

And here is the hem after being ironed!

lightroom (15 of 15)

As far as headwear, I decided this dress needed a bonnet. I based mine on a few references…but I won’t share them, because it looks nothing like them!

I decided to use a cheap straw hat as a base (this one, to be exact), which meant the design had to conform to the existing shapes of the hat.

I used the cap for the back of the bonnet.

Resize (47 of 51)

And cut down the brim to form the front.

Resize (46 of 51)

I stitched wire into the edges of the pieces to make them posable. This was a nightmare, the straw kept cracking and it killed my fingers. I don’t think I will ever attempt hand sewing with this straw ever again.

Resize (48 of 51)

I lined it with a peachy colored silk dupioni. This wasn’t fun either, but there was less tension pulling on the silk so it was slightly more forgiving on my fingers.

Resize (49 of 51)

I used a rectangle of silk to make lining for the cap, too.

Resize (50 of 51)

Here the cap is attached to the brim – I mostly used glue for this, since my hand stitching kept tearing out.

Resize (51 of 51)

I added ties and flowers, and the bonnet was done! Visually this is fine, and it suits the costume well. But I despised making this. It sucked having to alter my vision to the shape of the straw, and the straw was so difficult to work with. I had to glue a lot of elements and the end result is less durable than I would have liked.

But it is cute. So there is that!

lightroom (4 of 15)lightroom (3 of 15)lightroom (1 of 15)lightroom (2 of 15)

Here is everything worn together! And as I said, a full post of photos will be up soon.

1840.red.dot (8 of 13)

1840.red.dot (10 of 13)

Thanks for reading!

1840’s Dotted Dress – Part Two

Today I have the second post about my 1840’s dress to share! This piece is made from a dotted cotton and based on an extant garment.

If you missed part one, it can be read here. We left off with a partially assembled bodice, and some fit problems in the shoulder.

Resize (21 of 51)

My solution for the problem was a patch that is about 2″ wide. All of its edges are piped, and its curvature matches the armscye so it doesn’t stick out *too* badly. This gave me enough room to easily get my arms into the bodice – with a bit of space to spare for the sleeves!

Resize (31 of 51)

With the pieces fully connected, I stitched piping into the armscye. Unlike the other methods used for this bodice, this time I sewed the piping to the bodice with the right sides facing each other. Then I turned the seam allowance of the piping inward and whip stitched it to the lining.

The raw edges were covered later on with bias binding.

I also stitched piping around the neckline, using the same method.

Resize (25 of 51)

Then I put the bodice on my dress form – with the the wrong side facing out. And I pinned the yoke lining into the bodice. This is the BEST way to line fitted garments that have some shape to them.

After removing it from the form I slip stitched the lining into position.

Resize (26 of 51)

Now onto sleeves! Sleeves are usually my nemesis, but the design for these doesn’t require a lot of fitting, so it was relatively painless.

Here you can see my mockup (top piece) and the two part pattern I ended up with. The top piece attaches to the bodice, and has ruffles stitched to the bottom edge. The second piece supports the second tier of ruffles.

Resize (23 of 51)

Speaking of ruffles – these were made from 42″ x 4.5″ strips of the cotton. I hemmed them by hand with slip stitches.

I had to hem four of these strips in total (two for each sleeve). But it was fun! I hadn’t had a simple hand sewing project in a long time, I really enjoyed zoning out in front of the tv while doing this.

Resize (24 of 51)

The ruffles were also gathered down by hand.

Resize (36 of 51)

Here is the top portion of the sleeve attached to the first ruffle. Piping was inserted into top piece of the sleeve before stitching the ruffles on…because that is the 1840’s for ya!

Resize (27 of 51)

Ruffle two sewn on to the second piece of the sleeve.

Resize (28 of 51)

The side seams for each piece were done independently, so they layers can move freely.

After stitching the side seams I whip stitched the pieces together from the inside.

Resize (32 of 51)

And that is the process of making pretty, ruffly sleeves. These were actually my favorite part of the project – I never thought I’d see the day when I say that about SLEEVES! But I guess if there are enough ruffles I’ll enjoy making anything.

Resize (33 of 51)

These were stitched on to the bodice by hand, and the seam allowance was whip stitched down.

The (almost) finished bodice looked like this!

Resize (39 of 51)

At some point along the way I turned the back edge inward, and stitched in hooks/eyes.

But I’m going to redo this at some point, since I realized after photographing this project that the bodice is too big.  I’m going to switch the hooks out with bars, and have the back edge overlap by 3/4″.

Resize (40 of 51)

And that is going to be the end of another post! I’m trying to keep these short so I can space them out somewhat. Next time I’ll talk a bit about the skirt and the matching bonnet!

Thanks for reading – and for the response to my first post about this dress. I appreciate the patience regarding my lack of updates!

1840’s Dotted Dress – Part One

Surprise, I’m not dead! And I have an explanation (kind of).

I have been sewing, and I have been writing, but I’ve been documenting the process over on Patreon and my YouTube channel.

This year I’ve tried to make my social media presence (if you can call it that) a little more profitable to justify the amount of time I devote to it. And unfortunately for my blog, that has meant focusing on platforms that allow monetization. So I’ve been making a lot of simpler garments which allow me to keep a more regular video schedule.

This has meant my time for elaborate historical things is limited. And there isn’t a whole lot to write about/document when making more modern items or simpler pieces.

But I’m trying to find more balance – (It’s hard when you work from home and every hour can be a work hour) and find the time to focus on projects I’m really excited about. Projects that have enough substance to them that I can actually blog about them.

I’m not sure if I’ll ever be as regular about posting as I was in 2015-2016, but do want to try to write when I can.

That’s not an excuse or anything! It’s an explanation, totally different.

Now onto the true topic of todays post – a new dress!

1840s.red.angela.clayton

Last month I had a spare week or two that I could devote to projects of my own choosing. And I decided that two weeks was enough time to make a summery  dress.

I was kind of creatively exhausted and didn’t want to make anything *too* complicated, so I decided to make a pair of mid 1800s dresses based on extant examples.

This specific design was  based on two dresses from the Met. And when researching it further I found several other examples (take a scroll through this) which are almost identical. I always find it interesting when fashion trends are so obvious in historical pieces.

C.I.49.40.1ab_F

1976.208.1a_F

More photos here and here.

I think I was drawn to this style since It’s kind of the opposite of projects I’ve made before, while still being really similar. I’m used to the ruched/pleated/gathered portions of a bodice being around the neckline, with a fitted bodice to the waist. Where this has a fitted yoke, and gathering around the bust. I thought it was just different enough to be a fun challenge for me, without actually being challenging (creatively burnt out, remember?)

And I was right! I like this dress, and I loved working on it.

The main material for this dress is a dotted cotton with a reddish orange base. It’s a nice quality quilting cotton which I purchased in Lancaster for $4.99/yd. I had eight yards of it, and I ended up using a matching apparel fabric purchased on the same trip to trim the bonnet.

I like this fabric, but the colors remind me of condiments. A ketchup base with dollops of mustard, relish, and a sprinkle of pepper. It’s like elegant hot dog fabric. Mmm…

Resize (5 of 51)

Now let’s talk construction! I started by (not so professionally) draping the pattern. This was harder than I expected. The extant example I was imitating had a very high, modest neckline…but also nearly fell of the mannequins shoulder! Which is pretty contradictory.

This is what I ended up with.

Resize (1 of 51)

Resize (2 of 51)

I transferred that to paper, then made it into a mockup. I was being obnoxiously lazy and actually fitted this over a 1950’s girdle instead of my 1830’s stays.

BUT IN MY DEFENSE, they have a really similar effect of lightly shaping the body to the waist, and separating/lifting the chest. 10/10 would recommend if you are too lazy to lace up regency stays.

Now you might be able to tell that I made some slight alterations. The gathered portion was really droopy, and needed to be lifted by over an inch. It fit well over the shoulder, but the neckline was really low and arched. I raised and flattened it by quite a lot.

Resize (3 of 51)

However, in general I was pretty pleased with this. I’ve had some bad experiences with gathering and bodice patterns. Unless there is a lot of tension on the gathering, it poofs out and can look really silly. So this gave me confidence moving forward!

Resize (4 of 51)

After making the pattern alterations,  I could get to work! And step one was making piping. All the piping. Something I don’t love about the mid 1800s is the quantity of tiny pointless piping that borders EVERY edge of the garment. What purpose does adding piping around the armscye have? None. And usually, matching piping was used, so you could barely see it!

But it is a staple for this period, and something I’m determined to improve at. So I used some cording from home depot, tiny bias cut strips of fabric, and my piping foot to create a dozen yards of it.

Resize (7 of 51)

In the past I’ve done this with silk and had horrible, very puckered results. But it went really well this time – and after a quick iron my piping was ready to be used!

Resize (8 of 51)

The first place it is featured is in the seams of the back panel.

Resize (6 of 51)

I stitched the piping onto the rounded edge of the side panel by machine.

Resize (9 of 51)

Then I stitched a half inch away from the edge of the back panel, and used that line of stitching as a guide for ironing the edge inward.

Resize (10 of 51)

The folded edge was pinned to the edge of the piping.

Resize (11 of 51)

Then I stitched the pieces together by hand, using a backstitch.

Resize (13 of 51)

Resize (12 of 51)

Onto the front panel! I cut this out, then marked lines 2″ and 3″ away from the bottom edge. The bodice was gathered down by hand at these points, with the bottom row of gathering being 6″ wide, second row 6.5″ wide, and the final row 7″ wide.

Resize (14 of 51)

I did this all by hand so the gathers would be all cute and precise. The top edge was also gathered down by hand.

Resize (15 of 51)

The bottom edge of the bodice will be covered with a 3″ wide band, and I didn’t want the bulk of gathers to be visible underneath it. So the gathered panel was sewn to a 3″ wide strip before being sewn to the other bodice pieces.

This was sewn by machine to the side panels – this might be the only seam on this thing that doesn’t involve piping.

Resize (17 of 51)

But it DID involve boning! I was worried the gathered portion would ride up and poof out, so I stitched the seam allowance together to form a boning channel. Then I added a plastic bone on either side. This worked really well in keeping it positioned – I’m so glad I chose to do this.

Resize (16 of 51)

Then I cut lining from a very lightweight cotton. Every part of the bodice is lined except for the gathered portion. Traditionally this probably would have had a pieced lining to offer more support, but I didn’t think that was necessary to achieve the shape I wanted.

Resize (18 of 51)

I stitched piping onto the top edge of the main bodice piece by machine, then hand stitched the yoke on top of that.

Resize (19 of 51)

The same process was repeated for the shoulder seam.

Resize (20 of 51)

Except I goofed up and made the shoulder allowance too small, so I couldn’t actually get my arm through the armscye. Gotta love off the shoulder pieces which have ONE inch of difference between “Too small to get on/move in” and “Too big, falls off”.

Luckily this piece didn’t have a lot of decoration on the collar/yoke, so I managed to figure out a fix for it. After a several hour long break, of course.

Since this is when I took a break in the project, it seems like a natural breaking point in this post!

Resize (22 of 51)

Resize (21 of 51)

So I think this is where I’m going to end this post and todays musings. But the dress is done, and all the progress photos are edited. So I should have more updates soon.

lightroom (9 of 12)

Thanks for reading!

 

Making a Sunday Dinner from c. 1913 Recipes

Hello everyone, it’s been a while but I’m back with something new! Not only a new post – a completely new type of content for this blog. Today I’m stepping away from my sewing room and into the kitchen!

This was inspired by some women’s magazines that I recently purchased. I bought them with the intention of using them for fashion reference – and though they did have a lot of neat information about daily women’s wear from the mid nineteens, I found myself far more interested in the recipes.

I thought it would be fun to try some of them…then the idea morphed into trying some of them while dressed from the same period as the recipes! I thought this must have been done before, but I couldn’t find anything on youtube. Which meant I had to make it.

So three days later, after preparing a menu of ten recipes and spending sixty dollars on ingredients, I found myself spending six hours in the kitchen wearing a mid nineteens house dress.

The video showing that whole process can be found here, if you are interested! It’s a really long one, and shows the chaos that is me trying to multitask while cooking. I don’t think I’m a bad cook when it comes to following one recipe at a time…but tackling ten while capturing it on camera? With minimal instructions? That was a lot! And it didn’t go very well!

All the recipes I followed are from the book “Fifty-Two Sunday Dinners” by Elizabeth O.Hiller. The ebook version of this is avalible here, courtesy of project gutenberg.

cover

I looked at *so* many books before deciding on this one. I like how it is organized into menus, so you get an idea of a full meal rather than random recipes. Plus, Sunday dinner seemed very appropriate for Easter!

However a specific menu didn’t really appeal to me, so I made my own.

menu

Here are the instructions (and my thoughts) on each one.

NOVA SCOTIA CANAPÉS

Cut white bread in one-third inch slices; stamp out with heart-shaped cutter; spread both sides thinly with butter, brown them delicately in the oven. Mince Nova Scotia smoked salmon and moisten with Mayonnaise or Boiled Salad Dressing. Spread each heart with mixture, dispose a dainty border of finely chopped white of egg around each and tip it off with a sprinkle of the yolk pressed through a sieve. Do not cover the salmon entirely with the egg. Arrange canapés on small plates covered with a lace paper doily; garnish each with a spray of parsley and serve as first course.

I used a heart cookie cutter to shape the bread, and replaced the salmon with smoked ham since I don’t like fish. Though the book does have a mayonnaise recipe I used store bought to avoid the hazard of raw eggs. Overall the texture was a little weird, but these tasted nice!

IMG_2918

CABBAGE RELISH

Chop crisp, white cabbage very fine (there should be two cups). Chop one green pepper and one medium-sized Bermuda onion the same. Mix well and season with one teaspoon salt, one-eighth teaspoon black pepper, one teaspoon celery seed and three tablespoons sugar. Dilute one-fourth cup vinegar with two tablespoons cold water; add to relish. Chill and serve in crisp lettuce leaves.

This was good, my favorite of the lot by far! It tasted really fresh with the celery seed and had a great crunchy texture from the raw vegetables. It wasn’t as good the following day, since the juices had seeped from the other vegetables and made it taste a bit watery on its own. So I’ve been adding it to salads and sandwiches too boost the flavor and really enjoying it!

IMG_2915

CAULIFLOWER À LA BÉCHAMEL

Select a firm, white cauliflower, remove leaves and cut off the stalk. Soak (head down) in cold salt water to cover. Drain and cook (head up) in boiling salted water to cover until tender but not broken apart. Drain well and dispose on shallow serving dish. Pour over one and one-half cups Béchamel Sauce. Sprinkle with finely chopped parsley.

BÉCHAMEL SAUCE
4 tablespoons butter.
4 tablespoons flour.
1½ cups highly seasoned chicken stock.
½ cup hot thin cream.
Yolk 2 eggs.
Salt, pepper, few grains nutmeg.

Process: Melt butter in a saucepan, add flour, stir to a smooth paste; add stock slowly, stirring constantly; add cream and continue stirring. Bring to boiling point, remove from range and add egg yolk slightly beaten. Add seasonings. Beat until smooth and glossy. Keep hot over hot water. Do not allow sauce to boil after adding yolk of egg.

This was good too! The sauce would be *amazing* on pasta, it has the texture of alfredo sauce, just with more flavor.  I used a store bought chicken broth and seasoned it with onion powder, garlic powder, and a bit of colliander seed.  However the sauce did end up quite salty, it definitely doesn’t need  salt added if you are using modern chicken broth.

I don’t love cauliflower, and found it still overwhelmed the flavor of the sauce but it was good.

IMG_2914

CARLSBAD POTATOES

Wash and pare one dozen small, uniform-sized potatoes; soak one hour in cold water to cover. Drain, put in stew-pan and cover with one quart of boiling water. Add two tablespoons butter and two teaspoons salt. Cook until soft (but not broken), then drain. Return to stew-pan. Add one-third cup butter, one and one-half tablespoons lemon juice, and one-eighth teaspoon paprika. Cook four or five minutes, shaking the pan occasionally. Place in hot serving dish and sprinkle with one tablespoon chopped parsley.

These were just okay. Definitely edible! But pretty bland and watery tasting. The texture reminded me of potatoes made around a roast, but they didn’t have the flavor from the beef. I think using bacon fat instead of butter would have helped.

IMG_2916

PAN BROILED FILLETS OF BEEF

Have fillets of beef cut one and one-half inches thick; shape in circular forms. Broil ten minutes in a hissing, well-buttered frying pan, turning every ten seconds for the first two minutes, that the surface may be seared thoroughly, thus preventing the loss of juices. Turn occasionally afterward. When half done season with salt, pepper, reduce heat and finish cooking. Arrange on hot serving platter and spread generously with soft butter. Pour over Sultana Sauce.

I’ve never cooked steak before, so this didn’t go very well. The outside browned (and threatened to burn!) within the first two minutes and I wasn’t sure what to do since they were no where near cooked through. They tasted okay, though.

SULTANA SAUCE
¾ cup Sultana raisins.
2-¾ cups boiling water.
1 cup sugar.
1 tablespoon butter.
Few grains salt.
¼ cup Sherry wine.
2 tablespoons lemon juice.
1 tablespoon cornstarch or two teaspoons Arrowroot.

Pick over raisins, cover them with water and cook until raisins are tender. Mix sugar, cornstarch and salt, add slowly to raisins and water, stirring constantly. Cook slowly twenty minutes; add butter, lemon juice and wine. Reheat and serve.

This was my “out there” recipe, since I found the thought of raisins on steak so very odd. This sauce is also paired with deserts later in the book, which made me even more intrigued!
I didn’t like this at all. The sweetness was okay, but I found the raisins to have an almost metallic taste and the way they burst while eating the steak was…gross. At least to me. But my dad liked it and isn’t even a raisin fan, so you might like it!
If you do follow this recipe, I would suggest using a smaller amount of water. I suspect early 20th century raisins were drier than modern ones, and would have soaked up more of the water, leading to a thicker sauce. My sauce ended up really thin, and I think this is why.
(But I used golden raisins instead of sultanas, which could have been the problem. Or maybe I didn’t get the sugar up to a high enough temperature.)
IMG_2919
LEMON PIE
¾ cup sugar.
1 cup boiling water.
2 tablespoons cornstarch.
2 tablespoons flour.
2 egg yolks slightly beaten.
4 tablespoons lemon juice.
Grated rind one lemon.
1 teaspoon butter.
Few grains salt.

Process: Mix sugar, cornstarch, flour and salt, add boiling water gradually, stirring constantly. Cook over hot water until mixture thickens; continue stirring. Add lemon juice, rind, butter,[21] and egg yolks. Line a pie pan with Rich Paste, wet edges, and lay around a rim of pastry one inch wide; flute edge. Cool mixture and turn in lined pan. Bake in a moderate oven until crust is well browned. Remove from oven, cool slightly, spread with meringue, return to oven to bake and brown meringue.

MERINGUE
Whites 2 eggs.
2 tablespoons powdered sugar.
¼ teaspoon lemon or orange extract.

Process: Beat whites until stiff and dry; add sugar by the teaspoonful; continue beating. Add flavoring, drop by drop. Spread unevenly over pie and bake fifteen minutes in a slow oven; brown the last five minutes of baking.

RICH PASTE
1½ cups flour.
1/3 cup Cottolene.
¾ teaspoon salt.
½ teaspoon baking powder.
Ice water.

Process: Mix salt with flour, cut in Cottolene (except one tablespoon) with a knife, moisten with cold water. Turn on a floured board, pat and roll out, spread with tablespoon of Cottolene and dredge lightly with flour, then roll sheet like a jelly roll; divide in two equal parts. Roll out a trifle larger than pie tin.

I really like the filling for this, it was amazing. I want to make it again and put it on ice cream. But it didn’t make a lot of filling. I’m not sure if lemon pies were intended to be flatter back then, or if my shell was too big. But I could have doubled this recipe and still not come close to filling the shell.

The meringue was just okay, I didn’t think it added a lot to the pie but I could have done something wrong. Again there wasn’t a lot of it, definitely not enough to make it domed towards the center. It also turned to a thick dry marshmallow texture in the fridge, so it’s barely edible at this point.

I made the rich paste from gluten free flour, and replaced cottolene with crisco. It was flaky and held its shape well, but had a slightly floury after taste. I definitely prefer my normal recipe of half cold butter half crisco.

IMG_2912

CAFÉ NOIR (AFTER-DINNER COFFEE)

To prepare after-dinner coffee, use twice the quantity of coffee or half the quantity of water, given in recipe for Boiled Coffee. This coffee may be prepared in the Percolator, following the directions given in the foregoing. Milk or cream is not served with black coffee. Serve in hot after-dinner coffee cups, with or without cut loaf sugar.

BOILED COFFEE
1 cup medium ground coffee.
White 1 egg.
6 cups boiling water.
1 cup cold water.

Process: Scald a granite-ware coffeepot. Beat egg slightly and dilute with one-half cup cold water, add to coffee and mix thoroughly. Turn into coffeepot and add boiling water, stir well. Place on range; let boil five minutes. If not boiled sufficiently, coffee will not be clear; if boiled too long, the tannic acid will be extracted, causing serious gastric trouble. Stuff the spout of pot with soft paper to prevent the escape of aroma. Stir down, pour off one cup to clear the spout of grounds, return to pot. Add remaining half-cup cold water to complete the clearing process. Place pot on back of range for ten minutes, where coffee will not boil. Serve immediately. If coffee must be kept longer, drain from the grounds and keep just below boiling point.

This was gross. Granted, I tried to make it in a normal pot and had a disaster when straining it. But I did follow their measurements and cook times, so I think it turned out similar to what they explain. It just tasted awful. You know when people say ‘This coffee tastes like tar’? I feel like I understand that all too well after trying this.

IMG_2913

And that is it! Though there were some mishaps along the way, it was fun to take on some vintage recipes. They all ended up being edible and enjoyed (except for the coffee, that was awful).

I hope everyones Sunday dinner is better than the one I made, and that you have a nice Easter if you celebrate.

DSC_9850

Thanks for reading!

 

January 2018: McCall’s Patterns & Midcentury Dresses

Welcome to the first post in what will hopefully become a monthly series on my blog!

This year I’ve decided to write monthly review posts, where I go through the projects and things that I focused on over that four week period. If I’m feeling ambitious I may set goals for the following month, too.

I’m hoping this will motivate me to write more (since I can write the post throughout the month), write about a bigger variety of things (not everything has to be sewing related), and give me a visual reference of everything I did throughout the year when we get to 2019.

It also gives me an opportunity to talk about smaller projects that I haven’t documented well enough to write full posts about. This year I plan on focusing more on youtube, and it can be tricky to film the making of a project and take enough photos for a thorough write up. I ran into this problem last year too, and ended up not posting about a lot of the costumes I sewed. This type of format gives me a place to share those pieces on my blog, without having to make a post all about them.

Don’t worry – I will still have a lot of “Making of” posts going up, this is just a supplement to them!

The rest of this post will be organized by the date things happened, but I wanted to start off with the most exciting part of January – my McCall’s Pattern! If you follow me anywhere else you will have heard about this over a month ago, but I haven’t announced it here yet.

january wrap up (8 of 41)

Back in early 2017 I was contacted by the McCall Pattern Company, and went to tour their NYC headquarters. Shortly after that I signed a contract, and now a little less than a year later my first pattern is officially out! It is pattern M7732, from the early spring launch. It is avalible online, and wherever McCall’s patterns are sold!

The pattern is of my 1890’s walking suit and includes the skirt, blouse, and jacket pattern. They’ve even included instructions for all the fun details, like the diagonal grain line and soutache detailing!

january wrap up (11 of 41)

This has been such an incredibly experience and I’m so excited to FINALLY be able to share it! I won’t ramble on too long about it here, since I go more in depth  on my thoughts in this video.

But I will say that I’m really grateful to have this opportunity. And for all of you, who have been part of making this happen. I wouldn’t get opportunities like this is weren’t for the fact that people have read my blog and shared my posts over the years.

I’m also extremely grateful for all the people at McCall’s who have made this a reality. I designed the costume, made the base pattern, made the sample garment, and modeled the piece, but SO much more than that goes into creating a commercial pattern. Dozens of people have worked on this and it would have never made it even close to the shelves without them.

So thanks to everyone involved, and everyone reading this. It means a lot to me!

And an extra thank you to the people who have purchased it. I’ve been told that it is the bestselling pattern of the new releases (eep!!) which is just incredible. I was so worried no one would buy it so to hear that has brought me SO much joy!

january wrap up (10 of 41)

I don’t think anything else in this post will remotely compare to that news, but let’s start from the beginning:

I’d hoped to jump into January with a bunch of new sewing projects, but the first day of 2018 was spent organizing instead.

I made the decision to redecorate my bedroom in December, which was a bigger undertaking than I had anticipated. I know I’m lucky to have my own bedroom, but I’ve never really liked the room. It’s always been a little sad and messy looking, with furniture that was too big for the space while also not providing enough storage.

I mean it was fine but I was never in there unless I had to sleep, because I didn’t want to be in there.

january wrap up (3 of 41)

So in December I started looking for things to improve it, and I came across a vintage six piece bedroom set, which was much more in line with the style I like now.

(Which is apparently “things that resemble victorian dollhouse furniture” – a young, fresh style since I am such a young fresh person…okay maybe not!)

The set was $250 and avalible for local pickup. My dad and I managed to get it home, but it wasn’t brought upstairs until the 31st, which made January 1st the first day I could organize things.

I wasn’t going to write about this, but I’m really happy with how it turned out. And I think you’ll see a fair bit of it in future videos and blog posts, so it made sense to mention it here.

The new layout and furniture makes the room look so much bigger, and it displays all of my knick knacks perfectly. 

january wrap up (29 of 41)

I’m especially fond of the settee from the 1880’s, which I recently reupholstered with pink velvet. It sits in front of framed (original!) fashion plates from the 1830’s and 1860’s. The hutch over the dresser stores my hats, jewelry, and a few figurines that don’t fit in my sewing room.

january wrap up (30 of 41)

But my favorite part has to be the lamps. These are from the 1940’s by the company Von Schierholz. They weigh 20 pounds each, and stand more than three feet tall. I found them in antique store and  fell in love. They were a little more expensive than I had wanted but I couldn’t leave them behind.

Now they are all polished up and the perfect addition to the room! Once I buy artwork this space will be done.

january wrap up (31 of 41)

January 2nd was the day my pattern came out. It was also the day I started on my 1950’s ensemble, which I’ve already written about here.

I also published my first fabric haul in many many months, which can be watched here – I go through lots of 20th century sewing plans which should keep me busy for the next few months!

On January 3rd I shipped out a dress and cloak that took me half of December to finish. This piece is a remake of my “Dewdrop Dress” from several years back. I love how the dress turned out, but the cloak was a nightmare. I made the decision to line it, which was an awful idea. I ended up with a puckered uneven hem, even after letting the fabric hang for several days before trimming and sewing. I don’t think I’ve been that disappointed in a project in a very long time, and I was not happy to be sending it off in that condition.

But from a distance it looks nice! And I know the experts will work their magic on the pattern for this.

january wrap up (5 of 41)

I wish I had worn photos but I didn’t get a chance to take any!

january wrap up (6 of 41)

January 5th was the first day I started properly working on the green swing coat, meaning it became my primary focus. I also began work on the matching pillbox hat, which was finished the following day.

By January 8th the coat, hat, and coordinating dress were all complete. This was also the day I heard my pattern was selling well, which was super exciting!

green coat (2 of 2)

Unfortunately the following week kind of sucked. I had a really awful headache from the 9th until the 17th and found it really difficult to focus on anything. But on the 13th I went to Jo-anns and saw my pattern in stores for the first time! I also posted the announcement video about it.

On the 18th, when my headache FINALLY went away I got straight to work on a 1940’s design. I’d been wanting to make this dress for a while, ever since I saw this image. I thought the gathering was really interesting and new it would be a fun challenge to recreate.

1940's edits (23 of 36)

I was right! It was fun, and in two days the dress was done. I ended up loving the pattern I drafted, but disliking the dress. I don’t think beige is my color, so I’m eager to recreate it from another fabric!

There will be a write up about this piece early next week.

1940's edits (31 of 36)

January 20 was probably the biggest turning point I’ve had in a while. I realized I had 12+ videos fully filmed and none of them were edited. I want to focus more on my videos this year, and that isn’t going to be successful unless I actually edit and upload them.

To try and change this, I decided to reward myself with a bit of spending money every time I finish one, and oh boy did this make all the difference. I ended up editing two videos THAT DAY. And a total of 9 videos in January, which is almost the amount I uploaded in all of 2017! That little prize at the end gives me all the motivation I need to pick editing over watching other peoples videos…or playing online tetris.

So that has been awesome. And I’ve put most of my reward money into vintage clothing, since I’ve decided to start guiding my wardrobe in that direction.

I may start doing hauls and accumulative outfit of the day posts on that, but it will be a while until I get to that point. So far I’ve been buying a lot of NOS basic tops and sweaters, since those are pieces I’m less inclined to sew for myself.

january wrap up (15 of 41)

january wrap up (32 of 41)

 I have also picked up some fabric with the intention of making my own pieces. Since it’s still winter I’ll start with a few pairs of pants, but I will be making some more 1940’s style dresses and skirts when it begins to get warmer!

(and a shirt out of that jungle print that I couldn’t resist buying)

january wrap up (36 of 41)

The rest of my week was spent filming and editing. On the 22nd I made a pink pillbox hat and filmed the process for  this video.

1960s (1 of 4)

Then on the 23 that was edited, along with a vlog about making the 1940’s dress. The following day I filmed another video and finished two others.  My dad was off work for the rest of January, which made the next couple weeks feel like a really long weekend. So I didn’t get as much done as I should have, but I did make an edwardian chemise!

Like always, I draped the pattern myself.

january wrap up (13 of 41)

Then I turned that into a pattern, and the pattern was cut from an eyelet cotton. I hemmed the edges of each piece, and topstitched them to 1/2″ lace that was used to create bands of lace inset work. This was my first time attempting this technique and I really enjoyed it. There is something really satisfying about it, and the end result is so pretty!

The front of this piece also features pintucks and gathers…so  it was kind of complicated to piece together, but still fun.january wrap up (18 of 41)

It closes with buttons at the front, and has ribbon in the neckline to gather it down and prevent gaping. The skirt is gathered at the waist, with pintucks, ruffles, and more lace sewn around the hem.

january wrap up (20 of 41)

Overall, a really fun two day project. And a huge upgrade from my previous uncomfortable (and ugly) edwardian chemise!

It was also nice to get this cotton out of my fabric stash and turned into something practical. I believe this originally cost me $3/yd – and the lace I used was 50c for the lot of 15 yards since it had yellowed slightly!

january wrap up (22 of 41)

That piece will be worn under another project from January, which is a skirt made from an original pattern patented in 1909. This is the first piece in my “Sewing through the decades” series which I’m really excited about. For this series I will be following at least one original pattern every month, each from a different decade of the 20th century.

This series is primarily going to be documented through videos on my youtube channel, but finished photos of each piece will be posted here.

This skirt was constructed entirely with lapped seams, which was a first for me!

january wrap up (37 of 41)

It is shaped with eight gored panels, and four “inserted pieces” which feature inverted box pleats. Definitely an interesting piece to make, especially following instructions that are over 100 years old!

january wrap up (38 of 41)

I also began on the mockup for the next project in this series, which was…I don’t want to say a disaster, but it was close. I’ll leave the rant about this pattern for another day, but I will say that this pattern makes no sense whatsoever. I’m not sure who wrote the instructions and how on earth they expected any human being to understand them.

I DID end up figuring it out. It only took me three attempts and many hours.

january wrap up (28 of 41)

And the final project for January was a hat. Specifically a heart shaped hat. I got this idea after filming my pillbox hat tutorial – what would a hat look like if the crown was shaped like a star, or triangle, or heart as opposed to a circle?

I got really stuck on the heart idea since they kind of have the shape of a 50’s fascinator. So it seemed like something that could be pulled off without looking too ridiculous.  I played around with cardboard for half an hour to see if I could come up with anything I liked, and somehow, I did!

january wrap up (25 of 41)

Okay so that doesn’t look like much. But here it is made out of real fabrics!

january wrap up (39 of 41)

The finished hat has a curved brim so it rounds over the head, and looks pretty normal when worn. I’d hoped it would be more recognizable as a heart when it’s on, but I also like that it is subtle.

I filmed the making of this for a tutorial, which can be watched here. And @ursuly_seeews was nice enough to do the lineart and text work to turn my messy pattern into something beautiful and printable!

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD PATTERN PDF

The measurements I followed are listed on the pattern for the sake of consistency, BUT my hat ended up pretty big. I like how it looks from the front but it did gape away at the back of my scalp. If my hair wasn’t curled to fill it out, it would have looked pretty silly. I’d personally recommend sizing the hat down so it isn’t quite as overwhelming. This would also make it more visible as a heart when worn.

(Just make sure you size the crown and top down equally so they still fit together!)

january wrap up (41 of 41)

And that was it from me for January. I had a few other things I had hoped to get done, but I think it was a good start to the year.

When it comes to February (what is left of it, anyway) I would like to:

  1. Work on my website. There are a lot of dead links and pages missing information ever since I changed the layout a few months back. I need to take a few days and get the bulk of it fixed, I’ve just been procrastinating.

2. FILM ALL THE THINGS! I want to launch a Patreon on March 1st, which means having at least 6 exclusive videos done, along with the first three sewing through the decades videos and behind the scenes vlogs.

3. Start on something ridiculous. Even though the things I’ve made so far this year have been historical, they haven’t been huge elaborate pieces (or elaborate at all). I’ve enjoyed them, but I miss ruffles on ruffles and huge hats with piles of feathers! I want to start on a project that has at least one of those things.

And I think that is the end of this post. Let me know what you thought of it! I know I enjoyed writing it, and I think I’ll enjoy looking back on it too.

Thanks for reading!

Making & Wearing a 1950’s Swing Coat

Usually I start the year off with a wrap up showing the previous years projects and my thoughts on them. But I’m not particularly happy with how 2017 went, and I’d rather move forward with new things than write about my previous work.

So today’s post is going to focus on my first project of 2018: A 1950’s ensemble. This project was inspired by the glorious mid century costumes used in “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” and “The Crown”.

(both of which are wonderful shows if you are looking for something new to watch!)

Mrs. Maisel featured a lot of very vibrant pieces, with outfit changes between almost every scene. I was especially fond of her oversized coats, and it seemed like an appropriate season to sew one for myself!

green coat (10 of 10) RESIZE

I didn’t have anything in my stash that would work, and most wools I found online were outside of my price range. But I ended up lucking out and finding a 5 yard cut of bright green textured wool from Fabric Warehouse that was $50. Score!

green coat (7 of 45)

I did a lot of pinterest browsing prior to draping this, but nothing really sparked my interest. I wanted this to be styled after swing coats, with tons of volume. But I also wanted to have it be functional, with a collar and buttons as opposed to an open front. To make it harder,  most of the wintery “swing coats” I found were lacking the dramatic silhouette I wanted.

green coat (4 of 10) RESIZE

I had a few ideas sketched out but created most of the design elements while draping. Which was also a challenge – I’m not entirely comfortable draping loose garments, since there isn’t as much of a guide to go off of when it comes to fit. It was also difficult to imagine the design made out of the thick wool when I was draping it from flannel.

I ended up with this, which surprisingly turned into a passable mockup. So I transferred it to paper and decided to go for it! I figured worse case scenario the panels would be wide enough I could make changes as I went.

green coat (8 of 45)

I focused on the back panel first, since it has the most volume.

It’s made from four pieces – two that meet at the center back, with one gored panel on either side. The pieces were sewn together with one inch seam allowances, then topstitched down. I didn’t worry too much about raw edges since this wool doesn’t fray.

green coat (10 of 45)

Then the back panels were pleated. I topstitched the top 12 inches of the pleats down to create a slimmer shape around the torso.

green coat (11 of 45)

Another view – the stitching isn’t perfect but this was very difficult to manipulate through the sewing machine, so cut me some slack!

green coat (12 of 45)

Then I cut out the sleeves…which were also upper portion of the back panel. The sleeves are raglan style, so these pieces were connected.

I stitched three quarters of an inch away from the bottom edge to create a guide for turning the edge inward.

green coat (13 of 45)

And here it is pinned on. I topstitched this in place by machine.

green coat (14 of 45)

The front panels are much narrower, and shaped with darts above the bust. I topstitched the upper portion / sleeves onto these pieces as well.

green coat (15 of 45)

Even though the edges of the wool don’t fray, the interior of the upper portion was looking pretty messy, so I lined it with a colorful cotton sateen. green coat (16 of 45)

Now it was time for the buttonholes. I chose to do welted buttonholes since I like how professional they look. I was a little worried the material would be too thick to pull them off, but it totally worked!

This was actually my first time using this technique on a garment so I didn’t take many pictures of the process, but there are a lot of tutorials out there if you’re curious.

green coat (17 of 45)

I turned the front edges inward and lined them with more cotton sateen. The lining around the buttonholes got a bit messy – I should have marked the cutout placement on the fabric instead of doing it by eye.

But no one will see that since I only photographed the other side!

green coat (18 of 45)

The front lining was secured with a cross stitch, and I hand stitched across the center front edge with a running stitch.

Then I sewed on buttons, which are very simple, but MASSIVE. I originally wanted to use vintage buttons on this, but they were all too expensive. So I purchased these from here instead.

I think this was a good call – not only were they cheaper, the more elaborate vintage buttons might have been a bit too much for this design.

green coat (19 of 45)

Now the shoulder seams and side seams were done up…only for me to find out the jacket was too big. I cut a good two inches of width out of the underarm, then redid the seams. This looked way better.

At this point I was trying to figure out the cuffs. I originally wanted them to flare out and reveal the lining. But the edges were really bulky and I thought the visible splash of pink made the coat less versatile. So I cut four inches off the sleeves and sewed on rectangular cuffs made from a scrap of green wool instead.

This looked so much better, I’m thrilled I made the change.

green coat (21 of 45)

Now for the collar! This was made from a layer of wool and a layer of cotton sateen for lining.

I made a mockup for this at the beginning of  the project, but decided to do another test before cutting it from wool. This was another good call! After a few minor changes to the pattern the proportions of the collar were way better.

I sewed it onto the neckline by hand, then flipped it out and pinned the edges while it was on my dress form. I’m not sure how I came to the idea (because it looked fine before I did this) but I decided to pleat the front of the collar. This added more shape and a really unique detail – so I decided to go with it!

green coat (24 of 45)

The collar was tacked in place, and that’s it for the jacket!

I did also make a hat to go with this – I didn’t document the process very well, but I’ll do a pillbox hat tutorial in the future. It was basically a rectangle and oval cut from heavy weight interfacing, with wire in the edges and cotton sateen lining.

green coat (23 of 45)

I padded the top and edges heavily, then pinned an oval of coating on the top. Then I pulled a loop of coating over the sides,  and whip stitched around it. The bottom edge of the coating was whip stitched to the lining, and a comb was pinned into it prior to wearing. Easy peasy!

green coat (28 of 45)

I did also make a dress to go with this. But at this point I was focusing on filming the process (that video can be seen HERE) so I neglected to photograph most of the steps.

The dress was supposed to be a simple number made from a bright pink cotton suiting which was shown in the material picture at the top of this post. But after washing that fabric it felt like cheap, stiff, thick, bedsheets – not really what I wanted. I also wanted to wear black and white shoes with this ensemble and knew that wouldn’t match.

After another pinterest browsing spree I decided to make a fitted bodice with a sheer pleated overlay and full skirt.

green coat (31 of 45)

Here is the mock up – this was intended to be the base layer. The pleated layer would be made from rectangles that were draped, gathered, and trimmed overtop.

green coat (25 of 45)

Mockup number one looked okay.

green coat (27 of 45)

But when I did some tests with my fabric, I realized the sheer fabric I wanted use crinkled up when it became wet. It’s a cool effect, but not for the structured pleats I wanted. It also ruined the dresses washability…so I decided to use the cotton on its own.

This meant I had to pleat down rectangles then kind of cut them to the shape of the pattern pieces…but not entirely, since then the pleats wouldn’t be straight. It was all less than ideal but looked okay in the end.

The pleats are half inch wide knife pleats which I topstitched down a quarter inch away from the edge.

There is also a facing that flips outward to create a decorative collar detail, which is what you see here.

green coat (32 of 45)

My original button plan had to be scrapped since they were ivory and clashed with the white cotton. But this meant I could use these bright vintage ones I bought in PA earlier in the year! I got these for $1 a card which I was pretty happy about.

green coat (35 of 45)

Buttons on, buttonholes done. I realize now the buttonholes were too close to the edge because I did my math wrong. So I need to be more careful about that next time..but it still looks okay!

At this point I did a fitting and removed a huge wedge from the side seam. I also shaped the bodice with a dart/pleat instead of the originally planned gathering. Though this was a thin cotton, it looked to bulky when I attempted that.

green coat (33 of 45)

The seams were done up with french seams. I also drafted a quick sleeve pattern and got that sewn on. I wasn’t kidding about the lack of progress pictures, this is the next one I took!

green coat (36 of 45)

One of my favorite bits about this is a little placket (?) / tab (?) thing that I added. This extends out from the neckline and hooks on to the second button. It looks cute on its own, and even cuter with a bow threaded through it!

This bow was made from a floral fabric I got at jo-anns. The bow was made from triangles, instead of rectangles, which gave it an interesting shape.

green coat (40 of 45)

The skirt was made from my remaining fabric – I tore it into two 30″ x 72″ pieces, then sewed them together with a french seam. The front was folded inward several times until the material was thick enough to sew button holes into.

(the bottom 12″ or so of the front skirt panels were topstitched shut as opposed to seamed)

I did a massive 4″ hem on this skirt, then gathered down the top by machine. The pieces were sewn together at the waist, and I bound the edge with bias tape.

And that was pretty much it! A few more buttons were added and its done. Not quite what I originally envisioned, but I like the end result.

It’s slightly long waisted and the buttons are too far over, but for $16 of material and less than two days work I think it is okay!

green coat (41 of 45)

And with the coat (which is the real stunner, in my opinion)

green coat (44 of 45)

green coat (43 of 45)

Now for the finished “look”! Modern pieces are so much more fun when it comes to makeup and accessories.

I tried curling my hair outward to get that Mrs. Maisel flip, but it was sort of a fail – I think my hair is too long. Regardless, I like how it looked, and it held up to the crazy winds we had when photographing this piece.

My lip color is Dusty Rose from Besame, and everything else is pretty much identical to what I show in this video (I go through my hair styling process in that, too).

The earrings were my moms and perfectly match the buttons on the dress!

green coat (45 of 45)

The belt was vintage from the etsy seller TwinFoxVintage. And the shoes are from Royal Vintage*.

I want to talk about these shoes for a second, because visually they are probably my favorite pair I own. Black and white spectator pumps* are such a classic, and these are beautifully made. They really cup the foot and have sturdy padding in the soles.

green coat (3 of 45)

I know sometimes with cheap shoes (of which I own plenty) your foot pops out regardless of size since they aren’t shaped properly. That definitely isn’t a problem here.

I didn’t have any issues with grip when wearing them and the heel height is perfect. They are really flattering on the foot too, and creasing/wear on the leather has been minimal so far. I would definitely order more from the brand in the future with this in mind. (They’ve been teasing spring releases on instagram and I’m already excited).

BUT

They don’t fit me. The site advertises them as running large, so despite being a solid 10 I bought a 9.5. The right shoe actually fits me well, but the left shoe is…evil. It felt okay when I wore it around the house, just a little tight, but I was confident the leather would stretch. I also thought a size up might be too big for my right foot.

I WAS SO NAIVE.

After wearing them…Well, I’d share a picture but it’s not safe for work. It gave me blisters that bled through my sock after 20 minutes of wear. And I was in a situation where I had to wear them for hours. By the end of the day it was pretty horrifying. I refused to wear hard shelled shoes for the following two weeks.

I don’t think this is the shoes fault, just the sizing instructions. If I bought a 10 I would have been fine, but by the time I realized it wasn’t fine, the shoes had marks on their soles and couldn’t be returned.

I’ve been trying to stretch them with crumpled paper and it’s helped a lot, but I think the wearing in process is going to be long and hard for me. It sucks because if these did fit, I think they would probably be my most comfortable pair of heels based on what I mentioned above.

green coat (4 of 45)

green coat (5 of 45)

So next time I’ll order my normal size (or maybe a size up). And do an indoor wear test for a lot longer to ensure they fit before wrecking my ability to return them!

As for foundations, the petticoat is from modcloth (it’s their longer one, but I really don’t like it and wouldn’t recommend it). The stockings have proper seams in them and were purchased from sockdreams, but are by the brand leg avenue. I ordered the plus sized option since I’m tall and they fit great!

This was also worn with a longline bra from the 50’s which I got on ebay.

Now for pictures!

green coat (2 of 2)resizwgreen coat (1 of 10) RESSIZEgreen coat (3 of 10)RESIZEgreen coat (6 of 10) RESIZEgreen coat (2 of 10) resizegreen coat (4 of 10) RESIZEgreen coat (10 of 10) RESIZEgreen coat (8 of 10)RESIZEgreen coat (7 of 10) RESIZEgreen coat (9 of 10) RESIZE

And that’s it! First project of the new year done. Now onto something new!

Thanks for reading!

Making an 18th Century Floral Round Gown

Today I’m writing about another casual late 18th century dress. And I’m happy to say, this piece turned out much, much better than the poorly thought out purple linen dress that I talked about yesterday.

For this dress I managed to resolve all the fit issues with my pattern. I drafted a new, much more appropriate sleeve pattern. And my skirt was constructed properly. It took a little longer to make than the previous dress, but the end result is so much better.  I’ve included comparison photos at the end so you can see what a difference a bit more time invested makes!

This dress was intended to be a remake of the purple linen dress, but once I started looking for more references I decided to make a round gown instead of a skirt and bodice.

Round gowns were very popular in the second half of the 18th century. You can see a rather glamorous example here, and a more casual style here. But my main form of inspiration was this piece – I really liked the boxier neckline, and appreciated the interior photos.

The fabric for this is a Moda quilting cotton, in a floral print. I was attracted to it based on the colors – I love how purple, pink, green, and yellow have all been entwined so effortlessly. It’s a little busy…but busy prints weren’t uncommon in the 18th century.

I also bought two and  half yards of a wool that matches perfectly. So eventually this costume will get a coordinating coat.

red (1 of 52)

Just as a note, this is how the fabric looks in person. The worn photos of this dress do not do it justice since they were taken in really poor artificial lighting. It shines in the sunlight and I can’t wait to get outdoor photos of it – but the snow we have needs to melt first!

red (2 of 52)

I used my pattern from the linen dress as a base, but I raised the neckline significantly and made a few other changes. The first mock up was not great. But I made a some adjustments, and a second mockup, which was much more successful.

The only part I couldn’t get right is the back point. I’m convinced it’s impossible to properly fit this part on your own body. It’s tricky to fit it on a dress form, when you can see everything clearly. When it comes to it fitting YOU it’s a matter of luck, unless you have a helper. This lead to a lot of frustration but I eventually got something passable.

red (4 of 52)

Once I was happy with my mock up I cut out the lining.

I had been intending to follow some techniques from The American Duchess Guide to 18th Century Dressmaking*, since the Italian gown is somewhat similar to this piece and I’m so interested in trying the hand sewn methods…but I got too impatient. And I really liked the construction method for the linen dress. So I did this by machine instead.

But I will hand sew an 18th century dress someday soon!

Here is the front panel. I cut it from linen, then folded the front edges inward by one and three quarters of an inch. I sewed a quarter inch away from the folded edge and inserted a piece of plastic boning. Then I sewed eyelets right next to that.

This is the closure method used on this dress. I thought I would give it a try since I would rather sew eyelets than hooks and bars!

red (14 of 52)

I cut and sewed the rest of the lining together. I also sewed the seam allowance down to create boning channels, then added eight pieces of quarter inch plastic boning to the back and sides.

Then it was tried it on. I was focusing so much on the waist and bust that I didn’t realize the straps were too wide (or that it was gaping on the inner edge of the shoulder). But the waist and bust did fit pretty nicely!

red (15 of 52)

Or at least it did from the front. Once again, the waist at the back was too big. This made my waist look larger from the side than my bust.

How do you fit this on yourself? Someone please tell me! I tried doing it on my dress form but my back slope is different.

red (16 of 52)

I settled on adding a few darts to the back. This improved it a lot, but it still wasn’t perfect.

I also lowered the neckline slightly. I regret doing this – the half inch made all the difference, and the finished neckline is very low. I don’t dislike it, it’s just very different than what I had planned.

red (17 of 52)

I evened up the darts and sewed them by machine. I also altered my base pattern so the reduction from the darts is incorporated in the seams. This way there won’t be darts on the top layer of fabric.

red (18 of 52)

I didn’t take a lot of photos of this process, but the next step was cutting out the back panels. I got into crazy perfectionist mode with the center back pieces, and tried to get the  flowers to match up. This is impossible since the pieces are curved, but I did my best!

red (19 of 52)

The rest was constructed normally. The only difference between it and the lining (aside from boning and eyelets) is that I only folded the front edge inward by an inch and a half. This way it extends slightly beyond the lining.

The layers were pinned together with the right sides facing each other.

red (20 of 52)

Then I sewed around the edges with a half inch seam allowance. The only edges I left open were the tops of the straps, and the front edges.

red (21 of 52)

Then I sewed around all the edges by hand. Once again I left my stitches pretty large since I wanted them to be visible. This time I also sewed down the center back.

red (22 of 52)

I also did the shoulder seam up by hand. But after a fitting I finally caught the gaping on the inner edge. So this seam was ripped out, and re sewn wider so there was less volume on the inner edge. red (23 of 52)

Instead of sewing against the center front edges (which would prevent me from lacing it closed) , I sewed alongside the outer edge of the eyelets. red (24 of 52)

Now for sleeves! My firs pattern had a lot of guesswork in it, and was SO far off. I don’t know if you can see all the pins in this, but they were plentiful.

red (25 of 52)

My second sleeve pattern was much better in terms of shape. It was just a little large, so I removed a quarter inch from the seams and it was perfect!

red (29 of 52)

It this point I also noticed how wide the strap was. So I undid all the stitching and removed almost half an inch of material. I turned the remaining material inward by a half inch, then topstitched around the edge to secure it.

red (27 of 52)

red (28 of 52)

The sleeves were made from a layer of cotton and lining, sewn together by machine at the hem. When they were turned the right way out I bound the top edge with lace binding and topstitched across the hem by hand.

red (30 of 52)

The sleeves were sewn on by hand, using whip stitches. Then I tacked the seam allowance to the lining for a cleaner finish.

After a final fitting I noticed the back gaped a little, so I sewed two darts parallel to the back seam. These look pretty ugly from the inside but are barely noticeable from the exterior.

red (41 of 52)

Now for the skirt! I adjusted my dress form to my height, then measured from the waist to the floor at the center back while the appropriate foundations were in place. Then I added two inches, allowing for a hem and seam allowance.

I cut four pieces of material that were this length (around 52″, I believe) and sewed them together selvedge to selvedge. I left the top 18″ of one seam open, on the side front panel.

red (31 of 52)

Then I sewed in a modesty panel into this seam. I folded the edge on the other side inward, and topstitched everything in place. This will serve as the closure – note how I put it at the front this time, not the back?

Also I left 18″ open, as opposed to the usual 10-12″ because I knew I would be cutting several inches off the top.

red (32 of 52)

Now I hemmed the skirt. I folded the bottom edge inward by a half inch, then inward again by an inch and a half. This was sewn with a cross stitch.

red (33 of 52)

Since the top edge was straight, it was very easy for me to mark the pleats across the back three panels. I marked and pinned all the pleats on one half, then pinned it to my dress form.

red (34 of 52)

While it was on the form I adjusted the skirt until the hem was positioned how I wanted it. I used pins running horizontally to mark where I wanted the top trimmed down to. I ended up making a pattern for this, to used as a guide later on, but I didn’t get a photo of it.

red (35 of 52)

This test also made me realize the pleats needed to be deeper – the waistline was several inches too big.

Here it is pleated down properly. Note how the top edge is level? That is what you want!

red (37 of 52)

I used my pattern and chalk to mark the waistline onto the fabric. I sewed across this line, and stitched another line three quarters of an inch below that.

red (38 of 52)

Here it is after being trimmed down.

red (39 of 52)

I cut almost five inches off the front panel, then gathered it down to ten inches.

red (40 of 52)

I trimmed the allowance down to a half inch, then backed the top edge with ribbon.

red (42 of 52)

The skirt was pinned to the bodice. The pleated portion will be sewn to the bodice, the gathered portion is left free.

I secured the pleated parts in place with whip stitches.

red (43 of 52)

I notched the curved edges and pinned the seam allowance to the interior of the skirt. This was also whip stitched down.

For the seam allowance at the front, I whip stitched it to the lining. This isn’t historically correct, but I didn’t want the excess volume it would provide at the sides if I whip stitched it to the skirt.

This edge was left raw, as was common in the 18th century.

red (46 of 52)

The gathered portion was left raw as well.

I sewed a hook onto the end of the ribbon, and a loop into the interior of the bodice to serve as a closure. Here you can see it done up, the bodice simply laces overtop.

red (44 of 52)

This is the back – once again, this is the color of the material. It’s represented far more accurately here than in the worn photos, which is such a shame. But I will photograph it properly soon!

red (48 of 52)

Can we all appreciate how even the pleats are on the interior? Especially compared to the linen skirt…

red (49 of 52)

Speaking of comparing this to the linen dress, how about some side by side comparisons?

I think the most dramatic is the profile. Even though I’m still not 100% happy with the fit of the back at the waist, it is SO much better! Look at the sharp curve down the back. And how it sits flat across the bust. A drastic improvement!

z

Here the difference in sleeves is clearer – the shoulder has a much nicer slope, and the sleeves are a lot tighter. Even though the sleeves are tighter, I actually have a lot more mobility because the armscye was smaller.

dsc

And from the front – no pooling of fabric around the neckline, or rippling across the bodice. The sleeves have way fewer wrinkles as well, and a much slimmer more flattering silhouette!

purple (21 of 36)

And here is a mirror shot, that also shows the improved fit – especially in the sleeves and bust!

red (45 of 52)

And here are some full body shots.

red (3 of 6)

thuimb

red (2 of 6)

Overall I think this is a HUGE improvement. I’m a lot happier with the fit of this, it’s more comfortable than the previous dress, and easier to get into!

Fittings are such an important part of historical costumes. Not necessarily a fun part, since you have to get your foundations on and off a bunch of times, but it makes a big difference in the end result. I think the comparison shots in this post are proof of that.

To finish this off I wanted to share some pictures of the shoes I got to go with this. During the American Duchess sale over Thanksgiving I picked up a pair of the Kensington shoes in the color Oxblood*.

red (12 of 52)

I bought the Fraser’s in black* back in October (review here), but wanted shoes in that would be more appropriate for the second half of the 18th century. I knew I would be buying these at some point during 2018, and I decided it was better to get them while they came with free buckles.

I like the red because it will go with black based, or white based projects. I also have a red robe a la turque these will compliment, and of course they go with this piece nicely as well. The red is darker than I had expected, but I like that. It makes them more versatile. red (13 of 52)

At first I thought these ran large, and considered returning them. But I think it’s just the leather lining that threw me off, since they are stiffer than the linen lined Fraser’s they don’t “hug” the foot as much at first. After adding buckles they fit me perfectly.

I really like the leather lining compared to linen – no frayed edges! But I did find this made the buckles more difficult to put in.

red (9 of 52)

I bought the clear charlotte buckles which are so, so pretty. I love them. But I wish the short spikes were longer. These pop out every time I unbuckle the shoe, even after notching the holes so they would sit deeper in them.

red (10 of 52)

It’s not a huge deal since I can actually slip the shoes on and off without undoing them (they are a little wide on me, and this doesn’t seem to stretch the tops). But it was a pain when trying to get them on the first time. Hopefully the holes will stretch and this will cease to be an issue.

Overall, I’m really happy with these! They are so pretty and the fit of them is really nice now that the buckles are in. As always they are very comfortable and I look forward to wearing them. But I need to get some leather protectant for them first!

red (52 of 52)

I did want to mention: If you are a large footed gal and trying to decide between these and the Fraser’s (and aren’t too concerned about the periods they represent) I think the Fraser’s are a bit more flattering on the foot. The pointed tongue and higher heel definitely make the foot look more steamlined and smaller. Not that these are unflattering I just prefer the shape of the Fraser.

red (50 of 52)

And that covers everything! Now to make a matching coat so I can get some proper pictures of this!

Thanks for reading!

A Purple Linen 18th Century Dress

Today I’m writing about a project I finished almost six months ago. This was made in the summer, a few days after I discovered and binged the entire first season of Poldark.

loved that show. From the story to the way it was shot to the costumes. It was my first time seeing lower class garments from the late 1700’s represented on film and I quickly decided I had to make something inspired by it.

I went into this project being really excited. I’d been working a lot on my beetlewing dress and thought this could be a fun fast project. And it was! But that mindset lead to me rushing the earlier, very important steps which I don’t find as enjoyable. Mainly the pattern drafting and fitting process.

From a distance I don’t think this project looks awful – or even bad. But there are a ton of problems with the fit that wouldn’t have been problems at all if I had been a bit more meticulous in the earlier stages.

a-4526resize

The reason I’m talking about this project now is because it recently motivated me to make another “simple” late 18th century project, just without the plethora of fit issues. And I succeeded! The dress turned out so much better than this one. But honestly, I learned a lot more from this failed attempt than my new pretty dress. And I thought you might too, so let’s go through how I made it, and what I should have done differently.

(Note, there is also a video showing the construction in more detail. It can be watched here)

My 18th century bodice pattern is constantly evolving. Three years ago it started as an incorrectly scaled up version of one from Janet Arnolds Patterns of Fashion 1*. But it has been altered to an unrecognizable state, with me “fixing” things every time.

purple (2 of 36)

The last time I used this pattern was for a striped taffeta evening gown. That ended up a bit too small, and cut too high at the waist. So I fixed those things and also changed the shape of the points at the front and back to better represent the later period.

I’m pretty sure I made a mock up of this, and it fit “well enough” so I moved on right away.

purple (1 of 36)

The construction was super simple, I cut the lining from ivory linen and assembled it by machine.

purple (4 of 36)

I turned all the seams inward, then pinned them down. Once sewn these will create boning channels which add support to the back and sides of the garment.

purple (5 of 36)

Here they are after being sewn. I filled these with 1/4″ plastic boning which was purchased from onlinefabricstore.net

purple (6 of 36)

Then I assembled the top layer, this time from a brilliant purple linen. The fabric is probably my favorite part of this costume, it’s such a great color! I think it’s around $20/yd from Jo-anns but with coupons it becomes a lot more reasonable.

purple (3 of 36)

The only difference between the lining and the top layer is that the top layer doesn’t have boning channels.

purple (7 of 36)

With the wrong sides facing each other and a half inch seam allowance I sewed around the edges. The only edges I left open were the tops of the straps. The entire bodice (including boning) was turned the right way out through these two inch openings.

I’m absolutely shocked this worked. It took me a good twenty minutes, but eventually I got it done! Then I used a pencil to make sure all the corners were sharp and pinned around the edges.

purple (8 of 36)

I sewed around the edges by hand, using matching embroidery floss. I left my stitches pretty large since I wanted them to be visible. I’m really happy with how this looks, it shows up in a lot of the photos and adds a bit of texture and a home-made feel. Exactly what I was going for!

I also stitched a half inch away from the front edge to create a boning channel. I had to remove some stitching around the neckline to get the bone in, which was re sewn by hand when topstitching around the neckline.

purple (12 of 36)

purple (11 of 36)

The closures for this piece are hooks and bars. I usually use loops and hooks, but decided to give bars a try. I liked how these looked, but they did not want to stay done up. I’ve had this problem before with skirts that are slightly too large – they seem to undo themselves! I need to start alternating hooks and bars on each side.

purple (13 of 36)

The last step were the sleeves. I believe these were cut from an altered Janet Arnold pattern, too. They really don’t suit this style of dress but I didn’t take them time to draft something more appropriate.

They are lined with linen as well, and I topstitched by hand across the hem.

purple (9 of 36)

I gathered the tops to fit the armscye, then whip stitched them on. I didn’t even finish the tops of the sleeves!

purple (15 of 36)

And that is pretty much it for the bodice.

purple (32 of 36)

However you may notice some ugly darts on the back panel. This is because they were WAY too wide, and gaped away from my body pretty spectacularly.

purple (33 of 36)

The skirt was a rectangle, with a sloped top edge. I cut it out with measurements I took at the beginning which is not what I would recommend doing at all.

I think it’s much better to cut all the panels as rectangles of the same length, then sew and pleat them accordingly. After the top edge is pleated down, adjust it on your dress form and trim excess off from the top.

When you trim it before pleating, there isn’t a straight edge to use as a guide when marking the pleats. Because of this I could not for the life of me get the pleats even. I ended up doing a lot of them by eye while it was on the dress form, leaving the interior looking like this…

purple (36 of 36)

The top edge was bound with straight binding sewn on by hand. I used a skirt hook as a closure. The closure is at the centerback, which I also wouldn’t recommend. The back of the skirt is where the most volume should be, adding a closure there prevents it.

purple (34 of 36)

I topstitched the seam allowance on the center back seam down by hand to mirror the handwork on the bodice.

purple (35 of 36)

The hem is the best part of this. It is a rolled two inch hem, which was sewn by hand with running stitches.

purple (18 of 36)

And that is it! How about we take a moment to appreciate these photos before I tear it to shreds.

edit (4 of 5)resizea-4526resizea-4529resizea-4533resizeedit (2 of 2)resize

Okay. So what is actually wrong with this?

The skirt has a few problems I already mentioned. I should have trimmed the top after pleating, not before. This lead to uneven pleats, and the hem being really odd. The skirt is several inches off the ground at the front, and slopes dramatically at the back to the point where it drags.

I placed the closure at the back, which I’m not a fan of. And my attempt at pleated by eye means the overall top edge measurement was wrong. This causes the skirt to slip off the waist and leaves the top edge visible below the bodice.

purple (29 of 36)

For the bodice, the techniques used were fine. I actually used the exact same process for my new and improved 18th century dress. The issues all come down to decisions made in the first hour of starting on this.

AKA: Not testing my pattern properly.

I made a mock up, but a mock up isn’t everything. The real fabrics will behave very differently and constant fittings are crucial to a good finished product. I don’t think I tried this on over stays until the entire thing was finished, which is a huge no-no.

There are also things I should have picked up on from the first mock up which I missed. Mainly that the armscye were way too wide and deep. This hinders mobility when paired with a fitted sleeve, so I used a wider sleeve pattern, which didn’t suit this period and wasn’t very flattering. I didn’t test this sleeve pattern either, so it ripples a lot and has too much volume in the shoulder.

purple (27 of 36)

Another flaw is how wide the straps were. They extend to the very edge of my shoulder. That paired with the volume in the sleeves makes my shoulders look broader than they are. I believe I made them wider to support the neckline, but if the rest of the bodice fit properly that wouldn’t be necessary.

Speaking of poor fit, this bodice was way too big for me. Especially in the bust. I can pull it almost two inches away from my chest.

IMG_1837

This causes gaping, and folds of fabric near the armpit. You can also spot the sleeves wrinkling heavily in this position.

purple (28 of 36) The final problem is the back panels not being fitted at the waist…at all.

I actually found this part very difficult to fit on my reattempt too, unless you have someone with experience there to help you it’s tricky. But I’m not sure how I got it this wrong.

This effectively ruins the side profile of this dress.

purple (30 of 36)

It’s probably three and a half inches too big at points. Ridiculous! And this is after adding the darts. Those darts also had an unfortunate side effect – it caused the point to stick out like a little tail unless pinned down.

And another cameo from the slipping waistband.

purple (31 of 36)

I think that covers all the issues. A lot of these could be fixed with darts (lots and lots of darts) but that wouldn’t look very good. Fit issues this dramatic really need to be resolved before cutting out the bodice. Or at least before sewing the lining and top layer together.

purple (21 of 36)

purple (24 of 36)

It would take more time to fix than it would to remake, so I don’t plan on revisiting this piece. But I’m not too upset, I wasted some fabric and a few days of time, but I learned so much. And I’m happy to take everything I learned and put it into a dress that doesn’t have any of those problems.

In fact, I already have, and I love it a lot!

DSC_8074resize

Construction notes on that should be up tomorrow, so keep an eye out!

Thanks for reading!

.

.

Font credit goes to Qwerks