Making an 1890’s Day Dress, the “Pumpkin” Gown, Part Two

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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The edges of the portion left open were basted down and the bottom edge was hemmed by hand.

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I also ran basting stitches across the top edge to keep the lining in place.

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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!

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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.

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In between the muslin and taffeta I stuffed gathered strips of organza to help the sleeves hold their shape.

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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.

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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!

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They are so poofy.

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I gathered the tops down to be even smaller.

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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!

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Please ignore the color this dress has in this lighting, it looks far less noxious in every other setting.

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I need to add a modesty panel, but i’m so happy with the back of this costume. All those cute buttons!

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To finish off the bodice I sewed together three bias cut strips, then turned the edges inward by hand.

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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!

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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!

Plaid, Pleats, and Piping – Making an 1830’s Dress, Part One

This weeks post is about another new project, but this time i’m venturing into an era I haven’t sewn from in a while – the 1830’s! I went through a phase a couple years ago where I made three dresses inspired by this period, and I had so much fun making them. But for some reason I never revisited the period until now.

For Christmas I got Fashion: A History from the 18th to the 20th Century*, and looking at the silly 1830’s dresses featured in it reminded me how much I love the period. The dresses make me so happy, with the bold prints, large skirts, ridiculous sleeves, and delicate accessories. I still can’t get on board with the crazy headpieces, but I love everything else.

So when I was in Pennsylvania and came across a bright cotton plaid I knew it was time to make a boldly printed ridiculous 1830’s dress. This is the material was four dollars a yard, and I bought seven yards.

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I’m going to pair it with the orange taffeta leftover from my 1890’s Dress, and some berry colored velvet I got in NYC a while back.

When it comes to design I was a little bit conflicted. I originally wanted to make something based on this kooky dress, but the neckline and sleeves are quite similar to a dress I made in the past so that seemed kind of boring. And most of the other dresses I found were better suited for a less busy fabric.

I ended up mixing the dress linked above with the bodice design of this dress – I really like the piping, basque waist, the neckline, and the more elaborate sleeves. All those things make it more time consuming to make, but you know how much I love time consuming projects…

Here is my weird sketch which I didn’t really end up following (oops)
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I draped the pattern on my dress form, then transferred it to paper. The bodice is made up of 8 pieces, with an additional 4 pieces for the collar.

In the past when doing pleated collars I’ve pleated a rectangle of fabric, then cut it down to the shape I want. This time around I cut it down to the right size before pleating – which was kind of scary, since I was sure it would turn out the wrong shape. But it totally worked and made the process a lot easier, so i’m definitely doing it this way from now on!

I marked the pleat pattern onto the collar with chalk.
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Then used my iron to crease the tops of the pleats.

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Then actually pleated them and pinned everything in place! This is the front.

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And this is the back.

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The front panels were carefully pinned, then sewn together. It was unintentional, but the horizontal pattern ended up being almost symmetrical on these panels. They didn’t match up the first time I sewed it, but they were so close that I ripped the seam out and redid it so they match!

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The shoulder of the collar pieces were done up with piping sewn into the seam. The bottom edge was hemmed by eye, and the top edge was turned inward by a half inch. Then I hand stitched some piping around the neckline.

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To keep the pleats in place I loosely tacked them down from the underside. This was trickier to do than I was expecting. Since the fabric is so thin I couldn’t feel how many layers I was stitching through, and I ended up sewing through the front of the fabric a few times. Those stitches are pretty obvious since I used dark purple thread, which doesn’t match 80% of the colors in the bodice.

Luckily the crazy print also works to my benefit  – your eye skips over the visible stitches and assumes it’s part of the chaos that is this fabric!

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With the collar done the bodice assembly began! I made this more difficult by adding piping to every seam (something I’ve never done before). And I chose to use yarn as piping cord, which was way too thin and looked flat after being ironed. Not my best decision, but I kind of made it work!

These are the front panels…

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More front panels.

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And the back panels!

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The arm openings were finished with facings.

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And then the collar was sewn on! This was done by hand to avoid any visible topstitching.

After a quick fitting to check the length I hemmed the bottom edge and trimmed it with more piping.

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And now it was time for lining! This was assembled completely by machine and is made from muslin.

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It took me ages to get it pinned in properly – somehow the lining was too short, so it kept causing the front layer of fabric to bunch up. But I managed eventually, and sewed it in place by hand.

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I finished one of the back edges with bias tape (leftover from my 1890’s dress), then finished the other edge with a strip of bias tape that was turned inward and sewn down so it isn’t visible from the outside.

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The back closure consists of hooks and loops, which were sewn to the strips of taffeta.

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Unfortunately the print on the back of the bodice doesn’t line up perfectly, but it’s close-ish!

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Here is the front.

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And a close up of the pretty pleats! So far i’m happy with how this looks, though i’m second guessing my decision to go for a more complicated design. I think it might be a bit too busy – but the 1830’s were famous for being crazy, so maybe it works?

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That’s it for today! The next post will be about sleeves. I’m not sure if it will be about my 1890’s dress or this one, but it will definitely involve sleeves haha!

Thanks for reading!

 

Making an 1890’s Day Dress, the “Pumpkin” Gown, Part One

Today I’ll be talking about making another 1890’s day dress from taffeta. But this time around my posts will be a lot more positive since i’ve already finished this dress and i’m really happy with the end result. The finished dress actually fits, and isn’t too long, which might be a first for me!

Before talking about construction I wanted to explain the design of this, because if you’ve seen the movie Crimson Peak it may look familiar!

If you read this blog post you’ll know my foray into 1890’s fashion was originally inspired by what Edith wore in the film, specifically this gorgeous coat. Back in January I bought fabric for a coat based on that design, and material for a dress to wear underneath it. Even though I really liked the dress Edith wore with the jacket in the film, I chose to create an original design instead.

And it failed horribly.

The design wasn’t the reason why that project failed, but I didn’t want to be reminded of it when attempting another project from this period. So I settled on a simpler design, which features the most common skirt and bodice design from the 1890’s, and the signature puff sleeves. You can see similar designs in Victorian Fashions and Costumes from Harper’s Bazar* which I had open while sketching this ensemble.

Since my last dress was very heavy I chose to leave this one free of embellishments and trim, with the only decoration being buttons down the front and a brooch. This was the only thing I intended on copying from the dress in Crimson Peak. But when I compared my sketch to the costume from the film, I realized they were pretty much identical!

This was made even more apparent because the fabric I purchased for this project is quite similar to what was used for Edith’s dress. But I like the design, and I like the dress from the film, so i’m okay with them being really similar, even if that wasn’t my original intention.

As I said, I used Victorian Fashions and Costumes from Harper’s Bazar* as a reference, along with a bunch of things i’ve pinned and the gown from the film.

I purchased seven yards of an orange silk for this dress, and plan on wearing it with this beautiful moth brooch I got for two dollars on ebay. I’ve been wanting to include it in a costume for ages, and I feel like this is my chance – even though brooches this bold aren’t really historically accurate, ecspecially on a day ensemble.

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And a more developed sketch.

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 I started off by draping the pattern. It’s a pretty simple design, but it took a bit of fiddling to get the amount of volume I wanted while keeping the shoulder and sides perfectly smooth.

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Here you can see it transferred to paper with the seam allowances added. This picture was taken after I made my first mock up and some pattern changes. Those changes included making the waistband longer, taking the collar in by an inch, adding a dart to the front, and raising the waistline.

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Just to be safe, since the fit of my first 1890’s day dress was so bad, I decided to cut out and assemble the lining of the bodice first. This would serve as a second mock up of sorts, and allow me to make minor changes before cutting into the silk. I’m SO glad I did this, because some weird issues popped up.

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The collar was too big (I think I took it in by a full inch), the gathers at the front were gaping, and there was a lot of wrinkling and bunching in collarbone/shoulder area. The wrinkling was weird, since every other part of the bodice seemed to fit fine.

I couldn’t find a solution online, or in Patternmaking for Fashion Design* (which everyone says has all the answers) but luckily I found a handy diagram in one of the 1920’s textbooks from the Woman’s Institute of Domestic Arts and Sciences which my Great Aunt gave me.

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I was skeptical about their solution, since the shoulder seam fit quite tightly, and if anything there was more excess fabric near the collar than the shoulder, but it totally worked! The shoulder seam just needed to be on more of an angle. I guess I’ve never run into this problem before since I don’t make high collar bodices very often.

In addition to that, I also took the collar in and sewed a strip of material across the front to control the gathers. In the future I would make a separate lining pattern that isn’t gathered, which would avoid this problem.

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Here you can see the strip I sewed to the front. After this was done I tried the bodice on again, and it fit well enough that I felt comfortable with moving forward. So I sewed a few boning channels into the lining, then filled them with plastic bones.

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It’s the wrong fabric and color, but it looks the way I wanted!

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Now I cut the bodice out from silk. Here is the front panel before I gathered it down.

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And here it is after being gathered!

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And sewn onto the back panels – can we just take a moment to appreciate how the seams on this fabric are practically invisible? I was so worried about making a full dress from silk, since the last silk I used was a VERY finicky dupioni that puckered horribly any time a needle passed through it.  But this fabric doesn’t have that issue, It sews beautifully and seams disappear after ironing.

Plus it has a gorgeous two tone look to it, and the weight is perfect – light enough that it is easy to manipulate, but heavy enough that I didn’t have to interface or flat line it. I want to own this fabric in every color and use it for everything, it’s wonderful.

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I sewed up the shoulder seams and added the waistband. Notice how the front and back panels have the same sheen to them? That’s because I paid attention to grainlines this time around…

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And a quick test on the dress form to make sure the gathered looked okay.

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Now it was time to add the closures. I chose to make the dress close down the back, and decided to go for something that would be decorative and functional: buttons and loops. I don’t think this is historically accurate, but i’ve wanted to make a dress with this type of closure for years and this seemed like a perfect opportunity.

To make the loops I cut out one inch wide strips of silk on the fabrics bias. Then I sewed them into tubes with a quarter inch seam allowance.

When it came to turning the tubes the right way out, things got tricky. I tried to turn the first one by hand, with the help of pliers. Which worked, but damaged the fabric and took ages – like three hours to finish one thirty inch long tube. It was ridiculous. For the other two I used the safety pin method of pinning it to one end, then threading it through the tube and pulling it out the other side. This worked way better and took less than ten minutes, so I should have done that in the first place!

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I ended up cutting the tubes into two inch lengths, then ironing them into the shape seen below. These were pinned onto ribbon, then sewn to the ribbon by machine.

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The ribbon was then pinned onto the back of the bodice.

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And sewn on by hand. Not my prettiest hand work, but I went over each loop several times to make sure they are really secure.

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With the loops on, I went ahead and sewed in the lining.

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Now it was starting to look like something!

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But it was still missing all the buttons, which meant I had to make some. I bought a tool for covering 5/8″ buttons, along with fifty loop back sets. These were purchased on etsy for a grand total of nine bucks.

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A few hours later I had an adequate number of buttons. Though I had to make more later for the sleeves and skirt.

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Buttons were sewn onto the back, which unfortunately I didn’t take a picture of, and the front, which looks like this!

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The gathered front of the bodice has a tendency to flop over and hide my beautiful buttons, so I’ll have to do something to fix that. But aside from that I really like it! I love how clean it looks, with the focus being on the color and buttons. It’s interesting working on something that is so bold (a lot bolder than my usual projects) yet really simple by comparison.

Speaking of that bold color, i’ve nicknamed this the pumpkin dress because of it! The color probably reminds me of cheetos more than pumpkins, but I think “pumpkin” is a slightly more glamorous name for it.

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And that’s it for this post! Thanks for reading!

Cycling Costume 1890’s, Photos

It’s odd, last week I posted a set of photos that I really liked, but the photos were of a project I wasn’t very happy with. And this week it’s the other way around! I’m really pleased with this costume, but I don’t think these photos do it justice. I hope to get more photos of it in the future, but with the weather we’ve been having I don’t think that will happen any time soon.

On the bright side, I also took video footage of this costume for my Costume Spotlight series, and i’m actually much happier with how it looks there! So if you’d like to see it in motion i’d suggest checking out this video.

I’ll be making a page with a summary of this project soon, along with links to all the posts related to it. But in the mean time, all the posts about this costume can be found under this tag – and the post about the foundation garments that are worn underneath it can be found here.

These first few photos were taken outside an abandoned church – it’s right around the corner from a bikers bar, and I thought it would be hilarious to go there and get photos of this costume with a “bike” but I wasn’t sure anyone there would find it as funny as me, so I did not.

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Then we went to a park for more photos. In these photos the sleeves are stuffed to add volume.

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Sorry for the wrinkly bloomers – sitting in the car really did an number on them!

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And that’s it!

Thanks for viewing!

1790’s Round Robe, Photos

It’s been a long time since i’ve had a post devoted to finished photos of a costume! But this weekend I got two costumes photographed, and last month I got two other projects photographed. So I should have lots of photos to share soon – I just have to get them edited first!

These photos are of my 1790’s Round Robe based on one of Norah Waugh’s patterns. The pattern gave me quite a bit of trouble and I ended up being unhappy with the shape of the bodice. But I kept going and now that it’s finished I quite like the ensemble.

It’s made from several yards of striped pale yellow cotton, with a front panel made from a sheer curtain. The bodice (and back of the skirt) is lined with muslin. The skirt closes at the front front with a drawstring and the bodice closes with hooks and snaps.

I paired the dress with some fake pearls and a straw hat that I altered, lined, and trimmed to make it more period appropriate.

I have to posts about making this dress, which can be read here, and here if you’re interested.

Now onto the photos!

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And that’s it!

Making an 1860’s Plaid Blouse

Today I had planned on posting about making a shirtwaist to go with my 1890’s cycling costume. But I didn’t get the video that goes along with that post edited in time, so i’m writing about a new project instead!

This project is a relatively simple three piece Civil War Era costume. It will consist of a blouse, skirt, and hat. It’s based off the two-piece ensembles that can be seen in many photographs from the 1860s. Though I definitely prefer the elaborate evening costumes, and matchy-matchy dresses from this period I’ve always found these interesting, and I like that they are different from the previous 1860’s pieces i’ve made.

Though i’ve been aware of this style for a long time, I didn’t feel especially inspired to make one until I saw this fabric. I think the print is a bit too bold to be accurate, but as soon as I saw it I knew it would make a beautiful blouse, and I think I was right!

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Like my cycling jacket this project was made with materials sent to me for review by Organic Cotton Plus.  I was interested in this material since i’d never worked with cotton gauze before, and I found the print really interesting. From a distance it looks like a typical bold plaid, but up close you can see all the contrasting threads and detail work. I like fabrics that transform the more you look at them, and I think this fabric falls into that category!

The fabric is really soft and very lightweight. I’d say the weight is closer to chiffon than any cotton fabric i’ve worked with before. It acts a bit like chiffon too, which made it kind of challenging to work with. It frayed a lot and the pieces were prone to warping and shifting as I worked with them. But unlike chiffon the fabric didn’t pucker as I sewed it, and it gathered really smoothly.

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The material is a double cotton gauze, so it’s actually two layers of gauze material that have been sewn together. This makes the fabric opaque and double sided, so if you wanted you could use the backside which has a check print (this side is also grey but looks more warm toned than the plaid side, which almost appears blue in some lights).

Even though this fabric was challenging at times, I really liked working with it and i’d consider getting more for similar projects in the future. But I don’t think I would recommend it for very fitted dresses that would put a lot of tension on the seams since it is quite delicate.

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Now onto the construction! I didn’t bother making a sketch for this, I went straight into the draping. Which in hindsight wasn’t the best idea. Since I didn’t do any sketching I didn’t do much research either. And I didn’t realize that blouses from this period usually buttoned overtop of the skirt waistband, instead of being tucked into it. Instead I draped it like a shirtwaist, with gathers at the waistline and material flowing outward from that point.

But at least I remembered the dropped shoulder detailing!

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Here is my pattern after being removed from the form. I cleaned the edges of this up, added seam allowances, dropped the shoulder more, and made each piece a bit wider to allow for more gathers.

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Then I cut my pieces out and marked the gathering lines with basting stitches. This is the back panel.

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And this is the front panel. All these pieces were cut from one yard of the gauze, with the other yard set aside for the sleeves.

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To prevent the fabric from warping I fused interfacing into the shoulder portions of the front and back panels. I also ironed a one inch wide strip into the centerfront of the front panels. Then I finished the edge with lace seam binding.

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Then the edges were turned inward by hand and sewed down.

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I made a placket for the front panels out of a scrap of leftover material that was backed with interfacing.

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I cut down the edges and turned them inward. Then they were trimmed with some vintage cluny lace. I finished the placket off with a bunch of black buttons. These are the washable ones that come in sets of eight for 99c at Joanns.

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The placket was sewn on by hand.

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Then I sewed in a whole bunch of tiny snaps, which serve as the closure for the blouse. I could have made the buttons functional, but sewing tiny button holes without a machine is hard. And since this material is quite delicate and prone to fraying I didn’t think I could get an end result I was happy with by doing that.

Plus it’s way easier to do up/undo snaps, so I went with that.

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Then I gathered the back panel at the waistline and collar.

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The panels were sewn together at the shoulder with french seams.

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I bound the collar with bias tape.

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And trimmed it with some lace trim. I think lace looks a bit softer than the stiff collars that were sometimes worn, and that goes better with this fabric.

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And now I could move onto sleeves! These were cut out from the remaining material – I made them as wide and long as I could. The top edge is straight, but the bottom edge gets longer towards the underarm. I thought this was a fashionable thing during the 1860’s but I can’t find any examples of it, so I might have made that up.

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I folded the bottom six inches of the seam allowance inward by a quarter inch, then inward once again to finish the edge. Then I gathered the cuff down with two rows of gathers that are spaced a half inch apart. I love how these gathers turned out and they were really easy to do – I used my typical method of sewing small running stitches and pulling them tightly as I go.

 I think the fact this is a double gauze makes the material thick enough to create really pretty, dense gathers. But the fact it’s so lightweight means there isn’t a lot of bulk to them. It’s an interesting effect!

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I repeated the process at the shoulder of each sleeve. Then the cuffs were bound with strips of bias tape and finished with more lace.

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Look at those cute little cuffs!

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They close with a single button and some ugly buttonholes – in my defense the fabric was fraying a lot and I didn’t have matching embroidery floss!

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I sewed the sleeves onto the shoulder of the bodice, then bound the edge with lace tape.

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The side seams were done up with french seams, then I gathered the waistline of the front panels. The final step was turning the hem inward and sewing it down with whip stitches. And that was it!

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I think i’ll wear this with a velvet ribbon and a few paper flowers at the neckline. Or a cameo brooch.

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 The bottom few inches of the side seam are left open so I can easily get the cuff over my hands.

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And the back! I had to add a pleat to the back of the collar to make it fit better, but other than that it’s perfect!

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Okay perfect might be a stretch considering the goof up with the waistline style and sleeves. But other then those issues, i’m really happy with how this turned out! I think the lace/fabric/button combination is really pretty. Now I just have to finish up the matching skirt and i’ll be able to share photos of it all together!

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That’s it for today! Thanks for reading!

Making an 1890’s Cycling Costume, Part Two

The sporting jacket continues! This post will cover the process of making some big leg-of-mutton  sleeves and completing the jacket. If you missed it, part one can be read here, and I have videos about making this project, which can be watched here and here if you’re interested!

At this point I was happy with the fit and shape of the jacket, but I thought it was a little bland. As much as I like the wool herringbone, I felt the jacket needed another textile to break it up and make it a bit more interesting. So I decided to line the lapel with a contrasting fabric.

I was originally going to use a black cotton sateen, but it looked very stark against the grey. So instead I choose to use some plaid flannel instead (which will also be used to make the bloomers that go with this jacket).

I traced the lapel and collar onto the flannel, then cut out two pieces. I folded the edges inward by a half inch so the flannel sits a half inch away from the edge of the lapel. Then I redid it a bunch of times to get the plaid pattern symmetrical!

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Then it was sewn in place with slip stitches.

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With the lapel and collar finished I was finally able to sew up the shoulder and side seams.

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I  finished the armholes with strips of bias tape that were sewn on with the right sides of the material facing each other, then turned inward and sewn down. This was my lazy way of doing a facing since I didn’t want to draft a new pattern.

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I turned the bottom edge of the jacket inward by a half inch and hemmed it with small running stitches.

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Then I put the jacket on my dress form to see how it was looking – and I was really happy with what I saw! The side seams and hem added some shape to it, and I think the plaid lining made a huge difference. It really highlights the lapel and makes the design come to life!

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Now I could move onto the sleeves! These were the part I was most excited about, but also the part I expected to go wrong. I’ve never made proper leg-of-mutton sleeves before and I figured getting the fit and shape right would be a challenge. Because of that I decided to use a pattern from the book 59 Authentic Turn-of-the-Century Fashion Patterns by Kristina Harris*.

I took a photo of the pattern I wanted, then resized it on my computer, used the screen as a lightbox, and traced the pattern onto newsprint.

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This pattern is huge – almost thirty three inches long. But believe it or not I probably would have added more volume to the top if i’d had enough material leftover. The finished sleeves don’t look nearly as massive as you’d expect based on the pattern.

But for the most part i’m really happy with this pattern. I had to take it in by an inch around the lower arm and that was it! Sort of loving this whole not drafting my own sleeves thing, it makes the process way easier.

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I ended up adding a half inch to the seam allowances to allow for french seams.

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Then I attempted to stiffen the tops of the sleeves with netting, interfacing, fusible web, and some other stuff. I figured this would give me lots of effortless volume without the annoyance of sleeve supports.  But it made the sleeves look horrible and didn’t really add to the shape of them since it weighed down the fabric. So I ripped all of that out, which luckily didn’t damage the material. But it did leave behind some glue residue  on the interior which you can see below.

Once that failed attempt was taken care of I went ahead and sewed the french seams.

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And I had two very odd looking sleeves!

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Then I gathered the tops of the sleeves down to fit the arm holes in my jacket.  This was done by hand with running stitches, as per usual. 

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Then I pinned the sleeves onto my dress form to see what the shape was like. I think I stuffed them with a bit of quilt batting for these photos but I can’t remember. They hold their shape much better when they are worn (my arms bulk them up a bit, and the undershirt makes them less prone to collapsing) but the batting definitely helps exaggerate the leg-of-mutton effect!

Either way I was pretty thrilled with how they were coming along!

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I finished the cuffs with strips of bias tape that were turned inward to hide the raw edge. These were sewn in place with hidden whip stitches.

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And the top edge will be covered by the jackets lining, so I didn’t have to cover it.

Here are my finished sleeves~

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They got pinned onto the jacket..

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And sewn in place with two strands of thread and lots of tiny whip stitches.

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Then I pinned the lining in place. This was a huge pain, it took me hours which is ridiculous.  I think if I made another jacket similar to this I would try flat lining the pieces and finishing the edges separately (which was often done during this period). It’s just too difficult to get the lining to match up with the jacket, and i’m always worried it will effect the fit.

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I sewed it in with whip stitches – except for around the hem, I used running stitches for that.

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And then the final step was sewing on buttons! I used La Mode buttons in the style 219. They are stitched one and a half inches apart and half an inch away from the seam line.

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Here they are after being sewn on – part of me wishes I’d used larger buttons that don’t have a pattern, since these kind of get lost in the herringbone print. But I still really like them!

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And that’s it! I’m so pleased with how this turned out. It fits really nicely, even without a closure method. And the sleeves look so good. I was really worried they would look silly or end up being too big, but they are actually quite fitted while still having lots of volume.

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I love the plaid material at the lapel. I debated about whether to add that or not, and i’m so glad I did. In addition to making the jacket look better I think it will really tie the look together when it’s paired with matching bloomers.

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I’m also happy with the back seaming on this jacket. When I ordered the wool for this I was a bit concerned it would be too heavy to pull off the seaming, but it worked perfectly!

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And the thing i’m most happy with is that I learned from the mistakes I made on my last fitted jacket and managed to properly execute the collar and lapel.

The only things I wish I could change are related to fabric quantity – which is my own fault. If i’d ordered another yard I could have made the jacket longer, and the sleeves a bit bigger which would have made the silhouette more dramatic. But even without those changes I really like the end result. And I can’t wait to show you guys how it looks with the shirtwaist I made to go underneath it – but that will have to wait for another day!

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And I wanted to mention that from now on a “*” after a link will indicate that it’s an affiliate link. I thought this would be a nice non-intrusive way of (potentially) making a bit of money off what I post here. I promise affiliate links will always be relevant to what i’m talking about and marked with an asterisk. As a reader I don’t think you will notice any difference, but I wanted to make sure you were aware!

That’s it for this post! Thanks for reading!

Making an 1890’s Cycling Costume, Part One

So it’s been a while! Sorry about that, none of my projects were in a good stage to write about so I decided to take a week off. But now i’m back, with new projects and lots to blog about!

Todays project is one i’ve had planned for ages but didn’t get the material for until recently. It’s a late 19th century cycling costume that consists of a jacket, pair of bloomers, shirtwaist, and hat. I’d originally planned on making the costume without a jacket, and basing it almost entirely on this ensemble.

But then I was contacted by organiccottonplus.com who asked if i’d be interested in reviewing one of their materials, and they had a wool herringbone that went perfectly with the fabrics I had already purchased for this project. So I decided to add another piece to the costume, and i’m really glad I did because I think it turned out wonderfully!

Eventually the jacket will look like this, but this post is just about the beginning stages of making it.

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I’ll talk about materials first. The bloomers will be made from a plaid flannel shirting and the shirtwaist from a striped cotton. The shirtwaist will close with snaps and vintage shell buttons. For the jacket I purchased black buttons from Joanns in the style 219. I also have some grey ribbon to make a tie out of, and plain black wool for the matching hat, but neither of those are pictured.

The jacket will be made from two yards of that wool herringbone I mentioned, in the grey/black variation from OrganicCottonPlus.com.

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really like this fabric, and i’m not saying that because I was sent it. It’s the type of material I would pick up if I saw it in a shop because it has a really beautiful subtle texture and print to it. I think fabrics like this make a relatively plain jacket look a lot more interesting without overwhelming the design.

I was a bit worried when I ordered this that the grey/black would have too much contrast, but that wasn’t a problem at all. The color variation adds a lot of depth to the material without making the print look busy.

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It’s thicker than a typical suiting but not so heavy that it’s difficult to work with. I actually quite like the weight of it, since it makes the jacket look a bit sturdier which fits the purpose a cycling/sporting jacket would have in the 1890s.

Overall it was really nice to work with and I love the texture it has! It’s a bit outside the price I would usually pay for fabric, but I think it’s reasonably priced considering it’s 100% wool and made in the USA. The listing for it is here if you’re interested.

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Now onto the making and designing of the jacket!

The most difficult part of this project was coming up with the design. I didn’t have enough material for a double breasted jacket (which were the most common), the jackets that buttoned at the front were a bit more modern looking then I wanted, and the open front jackets looked quite similar to the plaid jacket I made recently.

After looking through dozens of pinterest boards and books I decided to flip through the vintage magazine my Great Aunt sent me and I found a perfect design on the first page! It has the big leg of mutton sleeves I wanted, a flared skirt, and a really interesting boxy lapel.

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I made a few small changes to that design and decided on some interesting back seaming. Then I sketched it all out so I would have a better reference to look at when draping.

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The draping process took a while since I kept changing things, but it wasn’t too difficult. The only part I struggled with was getting the collar to look right. The proportions in my reference photo and sketch wouldn’t transfer onto the dress form so it ended up being a bit higher and less boxy than I had wanted.

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All the pieces were unpinned from the form and ironed.

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Then I transferred them onto paper.  I lowered the waistline of each piece by a half inch, made the flares a bit bigger, smoothed out uneven edges, and added seam allowances. Here is the finished pattern.

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I  made a mock up for it and tried it on. The side seam needed to be taken in, but I was expecting that because my shape when  wearing a corset is very different from the shape of my dress form. There were a few other minor alterations like making the arm openings more narrow and lowering the hemline, easy stuff.

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I’d originally planned on adding an extra inch and a half to the hem so the length would be similar to my reference photo. But after making the mock up I realized how much fabric this pattern takes to create, and I didn’t think I would have enough material to accommodate the hem addition and big leg of mutton sleeves.

So I only lengthened the pieces by a half inch. And after the other alterations were made I pinned my pattern in place. As I did this I made sure each piece lined up with the grain line and herringbone print.

After pinning everything down I had six inches of fabric left over – and that’s before cutting out the lapel lining and collar. So it was a little bit tight, but a better end result than I was expecting. I thought I might have to take down the sleeve volume which would have been a shame!

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The lapel lining was cut out as two pieces, cutting it the other way would have the herringbone print going horizontally and I didn’t want that. This seam wasn’t visible in the end anyway.

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Here are all the pieces (except for the sleeves – i’ll talk about those in part two) cut out!

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And here is the lining cut out – i’m using a polka dot quilters cotton because the print made me happy!

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Then the pieces got sewn together. I sewed all the back panels together, and the two front panels together, but left the side and shoulder seams open to make the lapel and collar easier to sew.

 This is before ironing, but right away you can see the shape start to form!

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It looks extra snazzy on the dress form. I really love the flared back seaming, it’s easy to do but looks so pretty.

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With the back done I moved on to the lapels and collar. I learned on my last  jacket that these should be done as part of assembly, not an afterthought.

So I went ahead and fused interfacing to the wrong side of the front panels, the lapel lining, the collar, and the collar lining. I made sure the interfacing didn’t extend into the seam allowance since I didn’t want bulky edges.

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Then I pinned the collar to half the shoulder seam, which was pretty much the most confusing thing ever. I kept trying it on and repinning things to make sure I had it right.

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The seam was sewn then ironed so everything was flat – here is the shape of the lapel/collar lining.

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The lining was pinned to the right side of the front panels, then sewn in place with a half inch seam allowance.

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I clipped the corners and turned the jacket the right way out. Then I used a colored pencil to make sure all the edges were nice and pointy and pinned them in place.

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This went so much better this time (yay for figuring out correct sewing order!). I also left enough room for the collar to turn outward, so I didn’t need to sew on an extension like I did with my plaid jacket. It’s always nice when you can learn from past mistakes!

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I sewed around the edge by hand with small running stitches and that was pretty much it!

Even though I didn’t love how it looked on the mock up, I really like how the collar shape turned out.

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 I did end up trimming the hem a bit at the sides, since it dipped lower there than at the back which looked kind of odd.

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Look at those seams, I love them.

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And that is everything for this post! Next time i’ll talk about the sleeves and finishing details.

Thanks for reading!

 

Making a Taffeta Dress, 1890’s Inspired, Part One

This post is long overdue since I finished this part of the project back in January! I put off writing about it for a while because the skirt was giving me trouble, and I wasn’t sure if the project would even get completed. But now it’s done! So I can finally share the process of making it.

This project is an 1890s themed dress made from purple polyester taffeta. I based the neckline of this dress on this fashion plate, and planned on it having a very full skirt with pleats on each side like this example. The dress will be worn over a set of foundation garments and this partial shirtwaist.

My original sketch and the fabrics for this project are shown in this post. My sketch didn’t end up being very accurate, but I did use it as a guide for draping the bodice.

Speaking of draping the bodice…

After fiddling around I came up with a five piece pattern. The front panel is gathered slightly at the waist and fitted over the chest.

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I turned that into a pattern that looks like this. The gathers are marked on this as well as the button/hook closure placements on the side and back of the bodice.

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At this point I also drafted the sleeve pattern, which is MASSIVE. I wanted the sleeves to be fitted below the elbow so they would look nice underneath a jacket (which will hopefully be a companion piece to this project in the near future) so I cut them as two pieces, which is a bit unusual for this period.

To add a bit of interest to the sleeves I made the fitted portion pointed at the top.

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I made a mock up of the sleeves from some damaged cotton sateen and stuffed them with quilt batting. The finished result had the amount of poof I wanted, but was a bit too big at the wrist. So I ended up making a few alterations there.

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I also made a mock up for the bodice. This was a bit large so I took it in at the sides. I also widened the neckline a bit.

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Here is the bodice mock up + the sleeve mock up. So much poof!

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After making my pattern alterations I cut out the bodice. Then I faced the bottom half of the right side seam with strips of faux wool flannel.

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This finished the edge nicely and creates a base for the hooks/bars that will run down the side of this dress.

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Then I sewed up the side seams normally, but left the faced portion on the right side open.

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Interior view.

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Now we skip a few steps! I originally sewed the back panels together and stitched buttonholes into the top few inches…but the buttonholes looked bad so I ripped out the stitching and covered the raw edges  with a scrap of taffeta (as seen on left).

Before doing any of that I added a faux wool flannel facing to the neckline and shoulder of the bodice and stitched them in place by hand. Then I gathered the bottom edge slightly and stitched in elastic so the gathers have a bit of stretch which makes the bodice easier to get on and off.

And somewhere along the way I also stitched up the side back seams. If those look funny to you it’s because those panels were cut on the wrong grain line to save fabric. When I was sewing them on I realized they were puckered, and that was likely the reason why, but after ironing they seemed okay so I moved on.

That was a mistake. Not only as they still puckered, they also look like they were cut from a different fabric. This fabric is two tone, but that quality is only visible on one of the fabrics grain lines. See how the front panel has a grey shift to it in the folds? The back panels don’t have that and appear darker.

 I didn’t realize all of this until I tried the finished bodice on and noticed how terrible it looked from the back. At that point it was way too late to fix it, which really sucks. On the bright side I definitely learned my lesson and will never make that mistake again.

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I ignored the issues and buttonholes for a while and focused on the side closure instead. This involved sewing in six hooks.

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Then I moved on to beading. For this I used 6mm glass pearls and two different types of glass seed beads. At this point I wasn’t completely sure what beading pattern I was going to use, but these matched the costume and I figured I could come up with something as I worked.

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I ended up stitching pearls with seed beads on each side about an eighth (tenth?) of an inch apart all the way across the neckline.

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Here it is from a distance.

In this photo you can also see the new and improved (though still pretty ugly) button holes I stitched into the right side.

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I finished off the beading by stitching the grey seed beads into a pattern that wraps around the pearls. This was pretty easy to do once I got the hang of it and I really like how it looks.

I ended up making a tutorial on the process, if you’re curious it can be watched here.

After taking this photo I thought the neckline was still a bit bland, so I decorated it with vintage cluny lace which really brings it all together!

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With the detailing done I pinned polyester lining into the bodice.

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Then stitched the lining in by hand.

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Look at how pretty it is!

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Here is a close up of the finished neckline.

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I did up the back seam, then sewed bias tape onto the bottom edge.

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After a quick fitting I realized it was difficult to get on and off. So I reopened the back seam and added another button hole and three hooks to the back of the bodice. The end result isn’t as seamless as I’d hoped, but it’s a lot more practical.

The final step was sewing on the buttons (which I switched out for different ones later) and the bodice was done! All it needs is sleeves.

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That’s it for this post! I should be writing about the skirt and sleeves very soon!

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!