This post is the second one about making my Civil War Era evening gown. Part one talks about making the bodice and can be read here. This post will cover the process of making the sleeves and include photos of the finished bodice.
I really enjoyed this part of the project. Puffy sleeves are relatively easy to make and don’t require too much precision or fitting (unlike most sleeves). Plus they are adorable. Something about them makes me ridiculously happy. These ones are ecspecially frilly and detailed, which made them even more fun to work on.
The first step was drafting a pattern. Since this bodice sits off the shoulder I didn’t have to worry about fitting a sleeve cap, which made the process way easier.
I cut the pattern out from cotton sateen, then pinned lace appliques onto the lower half of each sleeve.
After sewing the appliques on by hand I cut out the tulle overlay. The tulle overlay consists of two layers of gathered tulle (one layer is white, the other is ivory – when layered the create a warmer white tone, which better matches the lace used on this costume). I didn’t use a fancy pattern for the overlay, I just cut out strips of tulle that were one inch wider than the widest point of the sleeve, and three times the sleeves length.
Then I used my machine to gather the edges down to the sleeves length.
I pinned the overlay on and trimmed any excess material at each edge. Then I sewed the overlay down.
This is the same process I used on the collar. The tulle really dulls the appearance of the lace, but the lace is still slightly visible and adds a lot of texture to the sleeve.
Then I gathered down the top and bottom edge.
And now it was time to create the “paned” effect. I did this by cutting out one inch wide strips of cotton sateen. The edges were ironed inward then covered with interfacing to stiffen them and hide the raw edges.
Then they were pinned onto the sleeves.
I secured them by sewing across the top and bottom edge – they look a bit silly here, but after steaming them they started behaving a bit better.
I also covered the top edge with lace ribbon to hide the raw edge.
Now it was time to work on the cuffs. Each cuff was made from strips of cotton sateen that were folded in half. I sewed a quarter inch away from the folded edge to create a channel. Then I filled the channel with a piece of plastic boning. This helps the sleeves keep their shape.
I gathered down some chantilly lace (these were the scraps leftover after trimming lace for the collar) to create lace ruffles.
Then I sewed those onto the hem of each cuff.
I still felt like the cuffs were missing something so I added a bit of beading. I used glass seed beads and white fake pearls for this.
They were sewn onto the sleeves with a half inch seam allowance.
Then the raw edges were turned inward and covered with more lace ribbon.
The side seam was sewn up with a french seam, and that was pretty much it!
The final step was adding a bit of alencon lace to cover the topstitching on the cuff.
The sleeves were sewn into the bodice by hand, with a slip stitch. Then the top edge was whip stitched to the lining. This is the finished interior of the bodice.
And the exterior!
The back currently looks like this. After taking this photo I realized the sequins don’t extend all the way to the center back, so i’ll need to fix that. And i’ll probably have to add a modesty panel at some point. But other than that it’s finished!
Here is how it looks worn – these were taken on a very overcast day, and my lighting isn’t the best, so I apologize for that. But hopefully you can get an idea of how it looks!
I was seriously thrilled when I tried this on because it fits! I was worried the shoulder would be too small, and I was concerned about the waistline, but both those things are perfect!
In addition to liking the fit, I also really like how it sits on the body. One of my favorite things about historical fashion are the ridiculous proportions, and how effectively they create a flattering silhouette despite the overwhelming amount of fabric, ruffles, and lace. I think this is a good example of that.
I think my only regret with this bodice is that I didn’t made the front point longer. From the side the point looks quite dramatic (it extends six inches past the waistline).
But from the front it doesn’t look long enough. I’m not too upset about it, but it’s something to keep in mind for future projects from this period!
Here is the back – it isn’t laced perfectly since this was just a fit test, so ignore that and just focus on the fact that is can lace completely closed! I
But I am a bit peeved with how the lace ruffle abruptly ends. I think I need to add a bow to cover that since I don’t have anymore of this lace.
And that’s it! This is probably my favorite bodice i’ve ever made. It’s so frilly and lacy and sparkly, I can’t help but adore it. The design of it is also quite special to me since i’ve had this project planned for so long. I was worried I might be disappointed by the end result since I had this project built up so high in my head, but so far it’s surpassed all my expectations and I hope it continues to do so!
Thanks for reading! I think my next post is going to be a fabric haul…