Today I have the second post about making my 1890’s dress to share. Part one can be read here and covers how I made the bodice. This post will be all about my nemesis: sleeves.
When I made my first 1890’s dress I drafted the sleeve pattern myself and came up with something usable, but it wasn’t accurate at all. I have a habit of making sleeve patterns symmetrical, which is bad since they don’t cup the arm as well.
So this time around I decided to copy a pattern from 59 Authentic Turn-of-the-Century Fashion Patterns*, specifically the sleeve pattern associated with this dress.
The pattern consists of a large “puff” portion which is attached overtop a fitted sleeve. It’s a really strange design, but I thought it would be fun to try. Unfortunately the first mock up didn’t go well. The fitted portions didn’t really fit and the puff portion was tiny, the sleeves had barely any volume. I’m also not completely sure how you are supposed to attach the puff portion to the fitted sleeve.
Soo I made some alterations. I made the puff portion a good six inches wider and longer. I cut the fitted sleeves off at the elbow and added seam allowance so they could be sewn together after attaching the puff. And I made them a bit smaller.
I cut the lining for the sleeves out of muslin, then used the muslin as a guide for cutting out the taffeta. To avoid the lining bunching underneath the taffeta I cut the taffeta pieces to be slightly larger than the lining.
I sewed these pieces together with half inch seam allowances but left the bottom few inches of one seam open since that’s where the closures will be.
The edges of the portion left open were basted down and the bottom edge was hemmed by hand.
I also ran basting stitches across the top edge to keep the lining in place.
Then I sewed loops and buttons onto the sleeves. The the lining was whip stitched to the interior of the taffeta, so it covers the raw edges of the loops. The buttons are all sewn on with upholstery thread since I was kind of concerned about the strain they would go through when trying to button these up!
I cut the puffed portions of the sleeves out, then gathered down the top and bottom edge. when they were gathered most of the way down I sewed them to the muslin lining, which is the top portion of the fitted sleeves.
In between the muslin and taffeta I stuffed gathered strips of organza to help the sleeves hold their shape.
Now the sleeves were a bit too poofy. They looked good when they were carefully arranged, but they didn’t stay looking that way for long. I ended up ripping out the gathering stitches at the shoulder, then cutting off more than three inches from the top of the sleeve.
Then I sewed the top and bottom portions together. This seam was covered with bias tape. And now I had things that actually looked like sleeves!
They are so poofy.
I gathered the tops down to be even smaller.
And then I sewed them onto the bodice by machine. Unfortunately after doing that I realized I couldn’t bind the arm opening without making the opening too small, so i’ve left the edges raw, which really isn’t ideal. But the sleeves were cut on the fabrics bias so they don’t fray that much. Hopefully it will be okay for the limited amount of wear this will get.
On the bright side, they fit! They have a habit of puckering around the wrist (I may have made them slightly too small) but I think they look pretty good!
Please ignore the color this dress has in this lighting, it looks far less noxious in every other setting.
I need to add a modesty panel, but i’m so happy with the back of this costume. All those cute buttons!
To finish off the bodice I sewed together three bias cut strips, then turned the edges inward by hand.
I sewed it onto the collar, leaving the ends long so they can be tied in a bow. The back of the collar closes with three hooks and eyes before the bow is tied. The final detail was that brooch I mentioned in my last post!
The final post about this project should be up in a week or two! And it will go over making the skirt and the hat.
Thanks for reading!