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.
After stitching the pieces together I folded the bottom edge inward by a half inch.
Then I folded the bottom edge inward by three inches, and stitched it down by hand to avoid visible topstitching.
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.
The top edge was gathered down.
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.
I ended up sewing the skirt on kind of unevenly – but it was intentional! this way it rests a little higher at the front.
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!).
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!
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!
And here is the hem after being ironed!
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.
And cut down the brim to form the front.
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.
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.
I used a rectangle of silk to make lining for the cap, too.
Here the cap is attached to the brim – I mostly used glue for this, since my hand stitching kept tearing out.
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!
Here is everything worn together! And as I said, a full post of photos will be up soon.
Thanks for reading!