Making Turn of the Century Foundation Garments

So this post is probably going to be really long. And it’s also long overdue – most of these pieces were completed back in January!

These were made to pair with a few turn of the century gowns that I had planned (including this taffeta dress), and were some of the first things I made in 2016. My goal was to have a full set of foundation garments that would work for the 1890s and the early 1900s. That was supposed to include a corset, chemise, bloomers, and a petticoat.

That didn’t really end up happening. My corset has the wrong silhouette, i’m not very happy with the chemise, and I never ended up making the bloomers. But I invested a lot of time into these pieces and I ended up wearing them with a few projects, so I thought I should write about them anyway!

All these pieces were made primarily from a white eyelet cotton fabric I purchased in the garment district. They are trimmed with white lace from my stash, a pink embroidered lace I got on etsy, and pink ribbon in various widths.

We’ll start with the corset. Usually I use corset patterns from Norah Waugh’s Corsets and Crinolines* – which is what I should have done here. But I was feeling a bit lazy, and I had recently come across a corset I made for a class a few years back. The corset didn’t fit me very well (too large in the stomach, and too tight across my ribs) and wasn’t a style I could pair with historical costumes.

So I decided to take it apart, make a few alterations, and reuse the boning to create a more historically accurate silhouette. And I wouldn’t have to cut or tip any boning as long as I kept all the boning channels on my altered pattern the same length!

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I also added seam allowance for a busk at the front, and changed the neckline. Then I cut the pieces out from denim and marked the boning channels.

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 I cut out the top layers of fabric, which consist of muslin and eyelet cotton.

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And sewed all the boning channels.

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Then the pieces were sewn together…

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And I had something that looked like this!

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Before sewing the front panels to the rest of the corset I added the busk, well first I prepared the fabric for the busk. See all the gaps in the seam? That’s where the hooks will poke out.

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And here it is sewn in place. Someone on instagram said I sewed it in upside down, but it was a little late to change it by that point and it doesn’t really effect the wear of the corset so i’m not too bothered.

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Preparing the other side. I made the holes, then fray checked them and waited for that to dry before inserting the busk.

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I trimmed the denim seam allowances down to a quarter inch, then added the boning.

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The top and bottom edges were both finished with two inch wide facings that were sewn on with half inch seam allowances.

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At this point it was starting to look like a corset!

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Next step were the eyelets – I chose to hand embroider them, as per usual, since I prefer them to metal.

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I used pink thread for this but they look like a weird off white color in photos, which sort of sucks!

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At this point I could do my first real first real fitting. It was slightly too large in the bust, so I added a dart to either side, but other than that it was fine.

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Which meant I could start decorating it! I decided to use some chantilly lace across the top edge – this is a cheap one I got off etsy.

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I cut it into two forty inch lengths, then folded the ends inward and sewed them down by hand so they wouldn’t fray.

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I turned the top edge inward by a third of an inch, then sewed it down to create a channel for ribbon.

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I threaded some pink ribbon through it and used that to gather the ribbon down. The end result looks quite delicate and pretty – or at least it does in my opinion!

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I sewed that on by hand.

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Then the corset was lined with muslin.

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And that’s it! I left the ends of the ribbon long so they can tie into a bow at the center front. I think it’s the prettiest foundation garment i’ve made – it’s so frilly, I love it. And i’m actually pretty fond of how it looks worn. It just isn’t right for this period.

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It doesn’t give nearly the amount of reduction it should and it looks quite bulky when dresses are worn overtop of it. I think it will work nicely with dresses from the late edwardian period, when more natural waists were becoming acceptable, but it definitely doesn’t suit the variety of eras i’d hoped it would. I’m going to attempt making something more suitable soon, this time following an actual historical pattern!

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Also, i’m aware tying corsets is the front is bad for them, but I can’t tie them tight enough without help and since I usually only have them on for short periods of time i’m not too bothered!

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Now for the chemise. I made this before doing any real research on the 1890’s, from fabrics I had around, and based it almost entirely off this image. Looking back I wish I had made a fuller chemise, with some lace inset work, but my hope was that this slimmer design could be worn with fitted dresses from later periods, making it more versatile.

Instead of doing lace inset, I made a lace collar that the fabric falls from. I made a pattern for this, then pleated lengths of lace so it fit inside the pattern.

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The pleats were sewn in place, then I trimmed the ends so they line up nicely.

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I sewed ribbon down the center of the lace, then sewed the lace together at the front.

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The body of the chemise is one piece, with a seam at the back.

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The arm openings were finished with bias tape.

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Then the top edge was folded outward, and the lace collar was pinned on.

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I sewed it on by machine.

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Then covered the stitching with a ribbon lace from Jo-anns, which was sewn on by hand.

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The hem is a simple double hem.

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Which I covered with ruffled embroidered lace.

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Then I sewed  on the lace I had leftover from making the collar, this covers the top edge of the ruffled lace.

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And it’s finished off with ribbon and ribbon lace.

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The back seam is done up with a french seam and that’s it!

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I think this looks quite pretty when worn with the corset – but In the future I would like to make a more traditional turn of the century chemise using some historical methods.

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And the final piece i’ll be talking about today is the combination set. This combines the chemise and bloomers into one garment. I hadn’t originally planned on making this, but my chemise was too long to be worn with my cycling costume, and I wanted something to fill out the cycling bloomers that wasn’t too bulky.

I draped the bodice on my dress from, then cut it out from more eyelet cotton. The neckline was gathered down, then straps were sewn on and the seam allowances were covered with lace tape.

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The collar is covered with an embroidered lace applique that a reader sent me a couple years ago, and the rest of the visible edges are covered with ribbon.

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The back closes with six hand sewn eyelets, and I attached little bows to the straps because I really like bows.

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Here is the finished bodice.

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The bottom portion is a slimmer, shorter version of the bloomers pattern I drafted a while back. This was sewn together with french seams.

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I left the bottom few inches open so I could get my legs into them.

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Then I sewed mesh lace onto the cuffs with a one inch seam allowance.

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Then the seam allowance was sewn down to create a channel for ribbon.

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Ribbon got threaded through that to create adorable ruffly little cuffs.

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I sewed the shorts to the bodice, then covered the raw edge with lace tape – this creates another channel, which will also be used for ribbon.

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I sewed up the back, leaving the top few inches open. There is also a half inch opening at the waistline, which is where the ribbon will be threaded through.

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Here is how it looked when I was done! This was a lot of fun to make. Since I cheated and did most of it by machine it came together in less than a day.

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It’s also really practical, i’ve been wearing it with a bunch of projects since it’s so comfy and the straps can easily be tucked down for off-the-shoulder dresses (like my civil war era ball gown). I see myself getting a lot of use out of it!

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And that’s it for this post! Three projects, fifteen hundred words, fifty-ish photos, and lots of frills.

If you want to read even more about frilly foundation garments, the blog post about making a matching petticoat is here.

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Thanks for reading!

 

1890s Plaid Walking Ensemble, Photos

I’ve already talked about this project a lot, so I won’t ramble on for too long. But I wanted to say once again that i’m really pleased with how this project turned out.

I don’t think these pictures are the best photos in the world, but i’m so happy with how the costume looks in them. Sometimes I see other bloggers photos and wonder how they make historical costumes look so…right, and effortless when worn. Mine always take ages to lay out, and if I move the skirt has to be refluffed and the bodice adjusted to make sure it looks okay.

This costume doesn’t have any of those issues. Even after walking for half a mile on dusty trails it looked fine as soon as I dropped the skirt. So when I see these photos I see the ease of wearing this costume, which makes me feel like i’m one step closer to making things that are on the same level as the costumers I admire. And that is a pretty wonderful feeling!

A brief write up of this project can be found here, along with links to the “Making of” posts which detail the entire process of creating this costume. 

I’ve also uploaded a video that shows the details of this costume, the process of getting into it, and some footage of it being worn. If that interests you it can be watched here!

Now as promised, here are the finished photos of the ensemble!

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And a close up of the back – I don’t like this photo, since the wig looks shiny, but I wanted the show off the soutache detailing!

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That’s it for today, thanks for reading!

Making an 1890’s Plaid Walking Ensemble, Part Four

We are onto the final post about making this ensemble! This will cover the process of finishing the jacket and making a matching hat. The previous posts about this project can be read here, here, and here!

At this point the jacket really needed a collar, which meant I had to draft the soutache pattern for the collar.  Once I did that I scanned my sketch, then loaded it into photoshop. I mirrored the image and printed it out. Then I redrew the portions of the knot that are supposed to interlock.

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The design was then traced onto interfacing, which got fused onto a piece of silk. I stitched through the design with thread in a light color so it would be visible from the front side of the fabric.

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I sewed the green soutache braid over the stitch lines, then sewed it to a piece of plaid material with the right sides facing each other. When it was turned the right way out I stitched along the edge to secure the pieces together.

This was the final result!

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I liked how it looked but once I pinned it in place I realized it was too small. It needed to be two inches wider and an inch deeper to have a chance of looking good. It was a little too late to remake it (limited amounts of fabric, soutache braid, and patience) so I added extra fabric to the bottom of the collar and hoped for the best. Here you can see the plaid fabric I added, plus the unfinished edge of the collar (which was supposed to be flat against the neckline.

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At this point I also realized the collar should have been attached before lining the lapels. My fix to this was sewing the lapel over the collar and tacking the collar lining to the shoulder of the jacket so the raw edge wouldn’t be visible. It’s all quite difficult to explain but by some miracle everything worked out okay and the collar/lapel looks absolutely find from all angles.

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With that crisis avoided/resolved I moved on to the final bit of soutache, which goes across the front of the jacket. I drew out my design, scanned it, then printed out a copy for either side of the jacket.

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The design was traced onto interfacing, then ironed into the jacket interior.

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Once again I sewed the braid on by hand.This time I left loops of braid open on the right side of the jacket to hold the buttons in place.

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Okay that is a lie, the button loops don’t hold anything in place. They are largely decorative (as are the buttons) the jacket actually closes with three hooks and eyes.

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When all that was done I stitched up the side seam and plopped the jacket on my dress form. Pretty pleased with how this looks!

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I sewed the buttons on and tried the jacket on. I was less pleased after this fitting. Though it fits well, the buttons/braided detail/closures sit too high – more than a full inch above my waist, which makes the jacket  less flattering than I had hoped. I added an extra hook a half inch below the buttons, but at this point that was all I could do.

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I hemmed the jacket by hand, then assembled the lining from muslin.

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The rest of the buttons got sewn on, then I pinned the lining in place.

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It was sewn in by hand with small whip stitches.

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And then it was time for sleeves! I was not looking forward to this part of the project at all but it ended up being really easy. I used a pattern from “59 Authentic Turn-of-the-Century Fashion Patterns” and it worked so well. I really like draping patterns, but I hate sleeves so I see myself reaching for this book again in the future.

The original pattern looked like this.

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After a fitting I made some changes – they were a little too wide, short, and I wanted more puff at the shoulder. Here is the altered pattern (it looks really similar, this pattern was awesome from the start).

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Unfortunately when cutting the sleeves I goofed up and cut off the extra inch I was supposed to leave to make them more poofy.

On top of that disappointment, I wasn’t able to cut these out in a way where both seams would match up. But I did find a way to get the front seam to match!

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Here are the front seams.

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I hemmed the sleeves by hand, then stitched some vintage lace across the hem.

I sewed the lining together but it ended up being two inches too short, which was bizarre since I used the same pattern that was used for the sleeves which fit perfectly. To fix it I filled in the gap between the hem of the sleeves and the lining with more lace.

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Then I gathered the top edge of the sleeves so they would fit into the jacket.

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Here they are pinned in place – I managed to get one of the stripes to line up between the shoulder and the sleeves, which was kind of cool!

The sleeves were attached with tiny whip stitches. When that was done the jacket was finished!

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I’m so thrilled with how this came out – even with the wonky waist and lack of symmetry on some of the soutache pieces. This is the happiest i’ve been with a project in a long time. It’s really surpassed my expectations and i’m so pleased with it. I really want to make more jackets like this in the future, it was so much fun!

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Now onto the hat! I’ve debated about whether to even post about this part of the project, since it’s probably going to be a bit controversial (i’ll say why in a bit) but I think it adds a lot to this ensemble, and I wanted to share the process of making it.

The shape of this hat is based off the “upside down flowerpot” hats that were common in the 1890s. I wanted to make a proper top hat to go with this dress, but ladies didn’t wear them during this period and this was the closest I could find while still remaining “accurate”.  The one I made is loosely based on this hat and this one. I also used the illustrations from “Women’s Hats, Headdresses and Hairstyles” as a guide for the back of the hat.

After coming up with a pattern I cut the top portions out from buckram, and sewed wire into the edges.

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I used felt weight interfacing for the brim but I should have used buckram since the edges of the brim ended up being quite thick.

The edges of this were also reinforced with wire that was whip stitched in place.

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I covered the pieces with a thin layer of quilt batting, then sewed silk overtop. Each piece was lined with muslin after finishing this step.

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The process was repeated on the brim, except it’s lined with red velvet, not muslin. And instead of the raw edge around the brim being folded under it was trimmed, then the edges were finished with bias tape. Which was a complete pain to do with this fabric since it was very finicky!

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The raw edges toward the hats opening were finished with bias tape as well.

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Then the brim was sewn to the cap, and I had a hat!

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Now for the controversial part: In the 1880s and 1890s there was a phase where the most common hat decorations were birds. Not feathers, actual stuffed birds. It got to the point where species were being hunted to the point of endangerment just for the sake of fashion. This craze led to strict preservation laws that make owning most feathers illegal.

I’ve always found that bit of history interesting. Though a lot of the hats are extreme and creepy, I find the more subdued ones quite striking and pretty to look at.  In February I was going through my reference books in search of ideas when I came across a full page photo of one of these hats which got me wondering if it would be possible to make one in this day and age.

It turns out it is possible since dried/preserved pheasant pelts are very commonly sold. Sporting stores sell them for fly tying, hunters sell them so they don’t go to waste, and feather shops sell them for crafts. After seeing the wide availability of the pelts, and how beautiful the colors in them are, I chose to use one as my primary hat decoration.

Personally I don’t see a big difference between this and using feathers in general, since most feathers sold are not naturally shed/cruelty free. But I know everyone has different opinions, and If this concept, or the visual of feathers in their natural form it is bothersome to you, I’d suggest skipping the final few photos in this post!

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I decorated the hat with a band of red velvet, some of the lace I used on the jackets cuffs, and a bow. I used two goose feathers on the side with the bow, and attached the wings/green feathers of the pheasant to the other side.

I purchased this partial pelt from ebay (the seller JellyHead!) It’s a golden pheasant pelt and cost ten dollars. The one I purchased only included the body/wings, no crest and no tail feathers. I trimmed it significantly so it would sit nicely on the hat and the red/green portions would be the most visible part. I don’t think these photos do it justice, all these feathers have a gorgeous iridescence when the sun hits them.

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When I wore this I pinned a comb into the interior so it wouldn’t shift around on my head.

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And that’s it! I’m very pleased with how this  came together. Seeing photos of it makes me smile because It looks so much better than the picture I had in my head, which almost never happens.

Here are a few photos of the finished ensemble. My favorite pictures of it are from the front and back, but i’m still in the process of editing those, so think of this as a preview. I should have the full set, along with a “costume spotlight” video about this up on Friday!


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Thanks for reading!

Making an 1890’s Plaid Walking Ensemble, Part Three

It’s time for another update on my plaid walking ensemble! The first post about making this can be read here, and part two is posted here – if you haven’t read them already I would suggest you do so, otherwise this post won’t make much sense!

I’m switching things up a bit and talking about the skirt today. Since the skirt came together pretty quickly i’ve also included the making of a simple silk undershirt, which I will wear with this ensemble.

When I last left off the skirt didn’t look like much. But before doing any assembly I wanted to add closures to the back of the skirt.

To do that I folded the top ten inches of the back seam inward. Then I fused thin strips of interfacing overtop of the raw edge, starting a quarter inch away from the folded edge of the material.

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The interfacing didn’t look very nice so I covered it with bias tape which was made from scraps of the plaid material.

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I sewed the bias tape in place by hand then stitched six size 1 hooks/eyes on top of the bias tape, near the folded edge. These are each spaced about one and a quarter inches apart.

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Once the hooks are done up the back looks relatively smooth.

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With the back panels finished I went ahead and did some skirt assembly. The front, side, and back panels were all sewn together with french seams. I ended up redoing part of the left front seam since it was puckering (visible in this photo) but everything else matched up well!

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Though I did have a slight problem when sewing the back panels on. For some reason the pattern didn’t match up, so I had to move the back panel down and trim almost two inches off the top edge of the side panel.

I also noticed an awkward “poof” at the side seam near the waist. I fixed this by sewing a dart into that seam, in this photo you can see the dart pinned.

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After making the alterations mentioned above I hemmed the front and back panels. I did this with loose whip stitches. I wasn’t concerned about them being very pretty or durable since they will be covered by a facing.

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The facing looked like this! This facing probably should have been between six or ten inches wide, I have no idea why I made it this huge, it was kind of unnecessary.

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The facing was sewn in with much smaller, prettier, whip stitches.

When that was done I got to try the skirt on!

This was really exciting at the time since I could start to see the silhouette coming together.

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I was pretty happy with it. I thought it was a little bit too long but I didn’t have any trouble walking in it when I was on hard wood floors/smooth surfaces so I decided it was fine.

Now that i’ve actually worn this finished skirt on a variety of terrains I can tell you that my first instinct was right, the hem should be taken up by an inch. The length doesn’t look bad, but it definitely drags more than it should.

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The next step was making the waistband. I based this design on “corselet waistbands” from the late 1890s/early 1900s. I like these because they bring attention to the waistline, and the pointed back means I can mount the skirt lower which helps make up for how much fabric I had to trim from the top of the side panel!

The waistband is made from the silk fabric used elsewhere on the project and reinforced with a medium weight fusible interfacing.

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I ironed all the edges inward by a half inch.

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Then pinned thin piping onto the top and bottom edges. I made this piping from knitting wool and bias cut strips of silk (which were offcuts from the pleated panels made for the skirt).

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The piping was whip stitched on, then ironed, which left me with a waistband that looks like this!

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I gathered the back of the skirt slightly, so the top edge of the skirt matches the size of the waistband.

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Then I pinned it onto the skirt. I decided to hide the raw edge of the skirt in the waistband. I usually wouldn’t do this since it adds bulk to the waistline, but since this skirt is quite slim cut there isn’t much bulk in that area.

I sewed the waistband on with two rows of whip stitches. The first goes through the interfaced portion of the waistband and the skirt, and the second attaches the piping to the skirt.

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Then I sewed cotton lining into the interior of the waistband to cover all the raw edges.

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And the final step was sewing in hooks! I used four size 2 hooks/eyes for this part.

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Finished skirt from the front…

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And from the back. There is a bit of overlap here, when the skirt is worn and there is tension on the waistband it looks much better!

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The skirt was technically done but after working on the jacket I decided to add buttons to each side of the front panel. I used smaller versions of these buttons on the jacket, so I think it ties them together quite well.

I should also mention that I redid the bottom few inches of these seams several times, yet they are still puckered and unfortunate looking. To fix it I would have to give up on matching the pattern at that point, and I don’t want that. So I think it’s something i’ll have to deal with, even though it bothers me!

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With the skirt done I could begin work on another piece to wear with this ensemble!

This piece is a bit confusing. It’s supposed to look like a shirtwaist from the front, but is constructed like a corset cover (which usually weren’t meant to be seen). I didn’t want to make a full shirtwaist since they require a lot of material and tend to have full sleeves which add bulk to the shoulder/arms of the garments worn overtop of them. So I made a sleeveless shirtwaist that is intended to be worn underneath something so the back/arms won’t be seen.

Make sense?

I originally made this garment out of a striped shirting (i’ll probably show it in a future Progress Report) but I didn’t like the end result, so I made a new pattern and searched my stash for new fabric. The fabric I settled on isn’t new, and it wasn’t from my stash. I harvested the fabric from this dress. It was a bit sad taking it apart but the dress was held together with E6000, safety pins, straight pins (which I didn’t even know were there), and hot glue, so it was definitely not going to be worn again.

The dress also featured embarrassing hand sewing details like this hem. Look at that top stitching. Wow.

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There was just enough ivory silk satin on it to cut out my pattern, plus a two inch wide bias cut strip that will be used as a sash for an 1890’s hat I plan on making soon.

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This material is really prone to slipping around. So I cut my pattern out from white muslin first, then used the muslin pieces as a guide for cutting out each piece of silk.

I sewed the pieces of silk to the muslin with the right sides of the fabric facing each other. Once turned the right way out the edges are finished nicely and I don’t have to worry about them fraying in the future.

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I left the bottom edge open since it will be finished with bias tape, and the top edge open since it will be lined and covered with a gathered strip of satin.

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The front panel was gathered at the waist to add volume to the center front and across the chest.

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The edges that touch the neckline were gathered as well.

I did up the side and shoulder seams, then sewed the gathered edges at the neckline to the collar lining.

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A strip of bias cut satin was sewn overtop to cover the raw edges. I finished the edges of this strip by hand with a rolled quarter inch hem.

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I sewed  the fitted portion of the bodice on and finished the bottom edge with double fold bias tape. The bias tape extends beyond the back edge so it can be used as a waist tie to keep the bodice in place.

The entire back edge of this bodice and collar opens with hooks and bars. It takes some flexibility to do up, but I can get it on and off myself which i’m very happy about!

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At the center front I attached two shell buttons. These were purchased from the shop “VintageLinens1” on etsy – I got a big package of them for a very reasonable price.

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Here it is when worn! I should have made this a bit smaller at the waist (it fits well over this corset, it’s too big for my other one) and made the shoulders a little wider, but overall I really like it. The sheen of this fabric is gorgeous, it has just the right amount of volume in the front, doesn’t add bulk underneath dresses, and I can get it on and off by myself. I’m very pleased.

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The final post about making this ensemble will be up next week. Assuming I can get everything edited in time, there should also be photos of the finished ensemble and a costume spotlight video up shortly thereafter.

Thanks for reading!

Making an 1890’s Plaid Walking Ensemble, Part Two

A couple weeks ago I posted about the plaid skirt I have in progress. That skirt is part of an ensemble which will also include a blouse, jacket, and hat. The skirt design came really easily to me but figuring out the upper half proved to be more of a challenge!

I had a very rough idea of what I wanted this jacket to look like but couldn’t seem to find anything that matched my “vision”. The traditional eton jackets were a bit simpler than what I wanted and everything else seemed too big and poofy.

I ended up purchasing the book “Victorian Fashions and Costumes from Harper’s Bazar, 1867-1898″ which was a big help. I didn’t see anything in it that I wanted to replicate but it gave me a better idea of the silhouettes and closures used on jackets from the 1890s, which made me feel more comfortable in making up a design of my own.

Here is a rough sketch of what I had in mind.

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Then it was time to make the pattern. I had planned on flat drafting this but after reading about the process I felt too intimidated and chose to drape it instead. Even though I didn’t flat draft it,  I used the patterns in “The Keystone Jacket and Dress Cutter” as a guide for the shapes of the pieces, which was helpful.

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Once copied to paper my pattern looked like this!

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I used that pattern to make a mock up which looked like this! I wasn’t expecting it to look anywhere near this good on the first try, so this was a very pleasant surprise.

There were a a bunch of changes that had to be made – like lowering the hem and waistline by a half inch, taking the front dart in by a 1/4″ at the waist, and adding a half inch to the arm openings. But all of those are pretty simple to do.

I also decided to add an inch to the front of each panel so the jacket could close with buttons. That wasn’t part of my original plan (or sketch) but I thought it would look more flattering in the end.

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Once the pattern was altered I drew diagonal lines onto each piece. These lines are a guide for which direction the plaid should face, and line up with certain points on the plaid material.

Each pattern piece is pinned onto the material, with the guidelines carefully matched to points on the plaid.

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Once one piece is cut out it’s used as a guide for cutting out the next piece so I can guarantee everything is symmetrical.

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By some miracle I managed to cut out seven of the nine jacket pieces from the weirdly shapes scraps I had leftover after cutting out the skirt. This was fantastic news since I only had a yard and a half of material leftover aside from the scraps, and I needed ALL of that yardage to cut out the sleeves and front panels of the jacket.

Speaking of the front panels, these had me stumped. I drew the guidelines onto the pattern, just like I did with all the other pieces. But after doing that I realized a major problem.

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Once the dart is sewn the plaid would not match. Here you can see how far the guidelines are from lining up.

If this was at the back of the bodice I might be more lenient, but this is the front, it can’t be that far off!

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So I chopped my pattern into two pieces, added seam allowances, and cut them out on separate grain lines.

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Then I sewed the pieces together – I realize it doesn’t look like much here, just wait!

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Before sewing the dart I interfaced the lapels and collar. I’d planned on pad stitching this but I didn’t have the right materials around so interfacing seemed like the best option.

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Now I could finally do the dart up and see if it worked, which it totally did!  I’m pretty sure I made an squealing noise when I ironed this and pinned it to my dress form. I knew it should work, but I was not expecting it to look this good and match up this nicely.

It isn’t perfect but it’s way closer than I had expected it to be!

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With the front panels done I moved on to assembling the rest of the pieces. Each piece was basted together by hand, then sewn.

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The basting stitches are more secure than pins, so the fabric doesn’t move when I sew it and I can make sure everything lines up just the way I want it to!

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Once the back panels were assembled I decided to try something new. It’s a technique called Soutache, which involves creating patterns out of braided cord. I bought sixteen yards of green soutache braid back in December, which I planned on pairing with this fabric before I even had a design in mind.

I was mostly inspired by this jacket, though I used some references from the Victorian fashion book as well. I spent hours trying to figure out the name of this type of design since I hoped to copy an existing pattern but I couldn’t find anything similar so I had to draw it out myself.

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Then I loaded it into photoshop and mirrored the image. I also made the top loops a little bit bigger and stretched the image to make it longer. After printing it out I used white out and a sharpie to rearrange a few things I wasn’t happy with.

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Then I traced the design onto interfacing, which got fused onto the back of the jacket panels.

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Then I sewed through the design with pale thread so the design was visible on the front of the fabric.

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And lastly I sewed the braid on. It is SO far from being symmetrical, which bothers me, but aside from that i’m pretty happy with how it looks. I was worried it would look too busy, or barely be visible on the plaid, but neither of those things were an issue in the end.

 Also I’m pretty sure the goal of these designs is to have them be made from one continuous piece of braid, which definitely isn’t the case for the design I came up with. So that’s something to keep in mind for the future.

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Despite the lack of symmetry, I really do like how it looks when the jacket is worn or on my dress form.

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When the back detailing was done I sewed the shoulder seem of the jacket, then cut out the  facing/lapels from silk. This is the same material I used for the pleated portions of the skirt panels and was also used to make the hat.

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The lapels were stiffened with fusible interfacing, then I sewed them into the jacket with the right sides facing each other, trimmed the corners, then turned things the right way out and pinned around the edges.

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I used small whip stitches to secure the layers of fabric together, then ironed the lapel so it was smooth.

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I didn’t figure out a soutache design for the lapels until after they were sewn to the jacket. And at this point I couldn’t use interfacing on the underside of the fabric to transfer the design. So I traced the design onto the tissue paper that comes with interfacing.

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Then pinned that onto the lapels and sewed through it. Once I was done I very carefully ripped the tissue paper away, making sure that I didn’t tear out my stitches.

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And now I had a pattern to follow!

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Here is the jacket after the braid was sewn on. I changed the design up a bit, but it is still very similar to the pattern shown above. I really like the way the green braid pops against the silk, and how it nicely ties in with the detailing on the back of the jacket.

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That is it for this post, but I should have another one up soon showing the finished jacket!

Thanks for reading!

Making a Petticoat, 1890’s Foundation Garments

It’s been a while since i’ve written about making foundation garments – the last post on the topic was almost a year ago! But now i’m once again venturing into an era of fashion I haven’t worked on before, which means making a new set of foundation garments to achieve the proper silhouette.

Petticoats had a variety of different shapes between the late 1880s and early 1900s, which made my attempts in picking a design difficult. I really wanted a petticoat that was versatile enough to wear with very full turn of the century dresses, slimmer edwardian gowns, and everything in between. This is partially because I don’t like making petticoats all that much (they are time consuming and take a lot of material), but it’s also because I don’t have a lot of storage space.

In the end I decided to make a three tier single layer petticoat from cotton and shantung, without any netting. The petticoat has a very wide hem which means it can be layered over petticoats I already have to add fullness but it can also be worn on its own to add a little bit of flare to the hem of a slim gown.

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Petticoats in the 1890s were glorious. Often they were ruffled with very detailed hems that were decorated with lace and embroidery. Unfortunately my petticoat didn’t end up being that pretty. I made this right after my giant fabric haul so I wasn’t eager to spend even more money on raw materials, much less on lace trim for an undergarment that won’t be visible in the end.

Maybe someday it will get a mini makeover and lace flounces, but for now it’s quite simple.

Here are the rough dimensions for each piece. It’s a pretty basic design, the top half is made from four panels of cotton and the ruffles consist of thirteen strips of shantung. Each piece is a rectangle or has straight edges so I didn’t bother creating a pattern. Instead I drew guidelines for each piece directly onto my fabric with the help of a ruler.

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I decided to tackle the ruffles first. Here are the larger strips cut out of shantung…

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And the smaller strips.

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The strips were then sewn together with a half inch seam allowance. This left me with one 18″ x 240″ strip and one 8.5″ x 540″ strip. The wider, shorter strip was set aside while I began hemming the longer strip.

The hem is a pretty basic one, I started by turning the raw edge inward by a quarter inch and sewing it down. Then I turned the hem inward again, so the raw edge is hidden.

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And then the strip got gathered down, so it was roughly half its original length. I did this by pushing the material under the presser foot as I sewed since I didn’t need it to be very precise or pretty.

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I pinned the ruffle onto the hem of the eighteen inch wide strip.

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And sewed it on with a half inch seam allowance.

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This looked good from the front side of the fabric, but the back was a frayed mess. I trimmed the edges so it was a bit tidier, then sewed lace seam binding overtop.

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After doing that I folded the ruffles up and set them aside so I could start on the top half of the petticoat!

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One of the “features” of this petticoat is an adjustable, partially gathered waistband, which is created by having the back panels gather with a ribbon. Though the process should be pretty straightforward I hadn’t done it before, so I decided to do that before anything else.

Step one was cutting out the back panels – which was super easy since they are just big rectangles. Then I turned the top twelve inches of the back edge inward by a quarter inch, then inward again by a half inch so the raw edge was hidden.

Then I turned the top edge of both panels inward by a half inch, then inward by a full inch. This creates a channel for the ribbon.

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I sewed across the bottom edge to complete the channel.

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Here is the back edge, all nicely finished. This portion will be left open so I can easily get the petticoat on and off.

It’s important this edge is finished before the top edge is folded over. If you do it after then the ribbon won’t have an opening to go through!

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I threaded ribbon through the channel and that was pretty much it for the back panels!

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Then I made the front half of the waistband. This is just a twenty by four inch rectangle of interfaced cotton which is folded in half. I originally folded the edges inward, which is what you see below, but that was a mistake. Luckily I realized the goof up and fixed it before it became an issue!

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I cut out the rest of the petticoat pieces and sewed together the front and side panels with french seams.

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I left the centermost ten inches of the front panel flat since I didn’t want a lot of volume near my stomach. But the side panels, and half of the front panel were evenly gathered down until the top edge measured twenty inches.

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Then the front waistband was sewn on and the raw edge was finished with bias tape.

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And the side back seams were done up with french seams. At this point it didn’t look like much and I wasn’t happy with how blocky the back panels were, so I did a bit of trimming before moving on.

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I measured the hem of the top half of the petticoat, then gathered my shantung down to that length.

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And sewed it onto the top half of the petticoat. Then I trimmed the edge and finished it with lace binding to control the fraying.

Now it actually looked like a petticoat! But this photo is pretty deceiving, since this is it layered over a cotton/netting petticoat that I made a while back. On its own it has very little volume.

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I decided to add a bit of detail to the seam between the shantung and cotton, which I did by sewed on some ruffled eyelet lace and a thin pink ribbon. It isn’t much compared to most 19th century petticoats, but it looks better than nothing!

The final step was sewing the back seam, which was also done with a french seam. I tapered the stitching off as I neared the top twelve inches of the edge, which were finished by hand earlier on. And that’s it!

(these photos also show it layered over a small cotton/netting petticoat)

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But since I mentioned versatility earlier on I thought I would show you a few of the different shapes this petticoat can have with the help of some extra layers and safety pins.

Here it is layered over two cotton/netting petticoats. It has a very full A line shape, with a nice rounded slope at the hip which was common during this period.

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Here it is with an (unfinished) skirt thrown overtop. It collapsed a bit after I hemmed it and added the facings, but the shape has stayed pretty much the same.

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But if I take out one of the netting/cotton petticoats, and use a safety pin to gather the bottom edge of the back panel it takes on a MUCH different, more narrow shape.

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Which works well for the slimmer shape from the late 1890’s – like this plaid project i’ve been working on!

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The only downside is that it’s a bit too long to wear on its own. In this picture i’m on my tip toes and it’s still more than a inch too long. Which means in it’s current state I can’t wear it underneath Edwardian style gowns.

But i’m going to fix that! My plan is to sew two eyelets into each seam and at the center front. The eyelets will be placed vertically, about six inches apart. Then ribbon can be threaded through the eyelets (one piece of ribbon per each two eyelets) and tied to adjust the length.

I could also use the eyelets to adjust where the volume is, like I did with the safety pin above. Hopefully i’ll get to that soon and be able to share the process in another post, along with better photos of the finished product!

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This post was probably longer than it should be considering the subject matter, but clearly I get excited when writing about petticoats!

Thanks for reading!

Making an 1890’s Plaid Walking Ensemble, Part One

So my blogging attempts have been abysmal lately, which is pretty obvious if you look at my three week gap between posts. Recently I haven’t been happy with how my projects are going, or my attempts at writing, or the videos i’ve tried to edit. The combination of all those things going poorly has led to a bit of a motivation block, where I don’t feel like working on anything.

But i’m trying to fix that! And i’m also going to attempt to follow a blogging schedule, and a schedule in general since I’m a lot more productive when i’m following lists and trying to reach weekly goals.

Part of my plan to restore my enthusiasm involves starting new projects. And this is one of those new projects. I normally I write about projects after finishing them but today I felt like posting about what i’m currently working on for a change!

For a while now i’ve been itching to make something different from my recent projects. Something where the construction is the main focus. Which is why I decided to make a plaid skirt and  jacket with every seam matching perfectly to create a chevron print. What is more construction focused than that?

It’s based off this ensemble, which is one of my favorite examples of fashion from the 1890s. I’m not trying to recreate it, just using the shape and pattern as inspiration for my own piece. Right now I have no clue what the jacket I plan on making for this project will look like, but I have made good progress on the skirt, which is what this post is about!

For this project i’m using the fake wool that I purchased from Joanns a while back. I have a little more than six yards of this and it was purchased for a total of $24. I’m pairing it with two yards of a silk I purchased a few years ago, which I’m pretty sure cost $16 total. I think including the price of lining materials and basic supplies this project will have a total cost of $50, which is pretty good for a historical ensemble!

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The first step was creating a pattern. Or taking the measurements to create a pattern. I would have liked to cut the skirt as two pieces, with two seams, but I didn’t have enough material for that.  So instead I came up with a six piece pattern with shorter side panels that would have the lower portions pleated. I’ve seen similar things done on lots of dresses from the 1890s and I thought it would help break up overwhelming amount of plaid.

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I turned the measurements into a functional pattern then started laying it out. Each panel has to be bias cut to create the chevron print. Unfortunately this process requires a HUGE amount of fabric and leaves lots of weirdly shaped scraps. I’m really hoping those weirdly shaped scraps can be used for the jacket, otherwise I may not have enough material to complete it!

To make sure everything was cut out on the right angle I drew guidelines onto my pattern pieces. These guidelines were matched up with the underside of a beige line.

Here are two of the pattern pieces laid out.

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I used the pattern for cutting out half the skirt, then used the pieces I cut out as a guide for cutting out the other half. This way I could perfectly line up each piece with the fabrics pattern and ensure that my skirt would be symmetrical and that my seams would match up.

You know you’ve done a good job when it’s difficult to see the piece that’s already cut out because it blends in so well.

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And if everything is done properly the pattern should match pretty well without *too* much effort! Here are the two front panels before I sewed them together.

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Though the pieces line up pretty well, I wanted them to line up perfectly after they were sewn. So I didn’t use pins for this project at all, instead I basted all the pieces together by hand.

For each seam the process was the same. I started by basting the pieces together with wrong sides of the fabric facing each other. I used the plaid pattern as a guide and made sure my needle went through the same points of the pattern on each side.

This was made a bit more challenging by the fact that everything was cut on the fabrics bias, so it shifted around and warped really easily.

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Then I used my machine to straight stitch over the basting stitches. I trimmed the seam allowance down to an eight of an inch and pressed the seam open so it was flat.

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Then the fabric gets folded at that seam line, with the right sides of the fabric facing each other.

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And then the basting process gets repeated!

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 Then I used my machine to sew over the basting stitches and ironed it once again. This is the front seam, so the primary and secondary pattern both line up.

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Unfortunately I didn’t have enough fabric to make all the panels line up this well. The pattern on the side panels only line up in one direction – note how the lighter beige stripes and light grey boxes don’t line up. Luckily this really isn’t noticeable from a distance, since the zig zag pattern is so much more prominent.

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Speaking of the side panels, somewhere along the way I majorly goofed up. After spending hours making sure everything lined up perfectly and getting half the skirt sewn together I realized I cut the back of the skirt out upside down. So the plaid was facing in the wrong direction.

It looks fine from the front!

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But not from the back 😦

My dad kindly drove me to the two nearest Jo-anns but neither of them had any more of this fabric. I didn’t have enough fabric left to recut the back panels, so I decided to add a second side panel instead. Not ideal, but better than nothing.

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I sewed together the two side panels using the same hand basting method. The I turned the hem inward by a half inch and created a facing out of some brown suiting. Most skirts during this period had facings at the hems, or were lined. This added weight to the hems which make the skirts easier to walk in, and makes the skirts lay better against the petticoats.

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I sewed the facing in by hand, then made up some piping. For this I used cotton cord and some green wool that was leftover from my Merida costume. This also got sewn on by hand.

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Now it was time for the pleated panels! I cut out two twenty eight inch by forty eight inch panels of silk. Then I turned the hem inward by a half inch, twice, and sewed the hem by hand.

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And then both panels got knife pleated. I went for one inch knife pleats, which are half an inch deep since I didn’t have enough material for the full depth.

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I pinned the pleated panel on roughly, then pinned it to my dress form and adjusted it so the length was right. Then it got pinned on properly and sewn on with a whip stitch.

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Here is the back of the pleated panels after sewing them on. As you can see there is some excess fabric at the top, which I trimmed down to one inch.

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 Then I folded the trimmed edge inward, so the raw edge was hidden.
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And then I sewed the edge down.

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Now the interior of the side panels looked like this.

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And the outside looked like this.

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And that’s my progress on this so far! I really like how it is coming along. I still have to do up the rest of the skirt seams, hem the front and back panels, add facings, and sew hooks into the back. So it isn’t close to being finished yet, but it’s getting there.

Oh, I should probably also mention that the sloped hem on the side panels is intentional. I thought that would make it look a little bit more interesting, though for some reason I didn’t include that detail in my pattern sketch.

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Now to figure out what the top half of this project will look like…

Thanks for reading!