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 Cotton Sateen Regency Bonnet

Usually I post about making a dress, then post about making matching accessories. But today I felt like blogging about making this bonnet, so i’m doing things a little backwards.

I’ve recently finished a regency themed dress made from a red and white floral fabric. I showed a little preview of it in my last progress report, and a blog post about the process will be up in the coming weeks. The dress has a bright print but is very simple in design, which makes it an excellent candidate for accessories. I decided to pair it with a bonnet made from cotton sateen and a pair of white shoes. This post will be about making the bonnet and decorating the shoes.

I’m not very familiar with bonnets from the early 1800s so I did a bit of research. It seems cotton caps were more common than bonnets, but I didn’t think those would be very flattering on me or look nice with the dress. After a lot of searching I found reference images that I liked. The first is on the bottom left of this print and the second is shown here. My plan was to combine the brim from the second image with the cap/banding of the first image.

Here is my sketch illustrating that plan…I draw really badly sometimes.

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The brim and back of the bonnet are made from interfacing with wire in the edges. The outside will be covered with red cotton sateen and the interior will be white. I also chose to make the cap portion flexible and made entirely from fabric, with no base.

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And I have some fake flowers and pearls which I wanted to use as decoration.

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With a bit of a plan in mind it was time to get to work!

I never really know where to start when it comes to bonnets, so I tried to drape the brim shape on a wig head. That process looked a bit like this…

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When it was removed from the form it looked like this!

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I made it a little bit larger to account for the fact that my wig head is smaller than my head.

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And I had a pattern! It looked about right when I held it up to my head, so I used the pattern as a guide and cut out the interfacing. This is heavy duty felt weight interfacing, which i’ve used for headpieces in the past. I should have used buckram, but I still haven’t ordered any.

(it’s on my list, i’ll get to it someday…)

The interfacing sat weirdly on my head, it looked much different and way larger than the newsprint layer. So I cut several inches off each side. I don’t regret doing this, but I wish I hadn’t cut off so much. My bonnet ended up being a little bit too small and sits farther back on my head than I would like.

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Using my sketch as a guide I drafted a back panel which will cup my neck and attach to the brim. This also got cut out of interfacing.

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Then I whip stitched wire to each edge. This allows the bonnet to be shaped.

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To cover up the wire and texture of the interfacing I sewed flannel over the top side of each piece. I did a really awful job of this, but that’s okay, no one will see it.

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The top layer of the back piece are bands of cotton sateen. I made these bands by sewing three inch wide strips of cotton sateen into tubes, then turning them right side out and ironing them.

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The bands got sewn on but I left the top and bottom edge open. The lining got tucked into the open edges and sewn down. Eyelet lace will eventually be sewn under the bottom band, and the top band will hide the raw edge of the lace used for the cap. So  these were left open for the time being.

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This is the interior.

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I decided on the wider eyelet lace since it matched the color of the dress better (the other was a little too yellow) it was pinned underneath the bottom band.

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And all sewn down! It looks a little ripply right now, but when it’s bent more tension is put on the bands and they look smooth.

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I skipped a few steps here, oops The brim was covered with flannel and cotton sateen. Then I cut out a piece of poplin to the same size as the brim with a half inch seam allowance across the bottom edge. I didn’t like how the poplin looked on its own, so I covered it with a gathered layer of silk organza. Then the bottom edge was tucked underneath and pinned to hide the raw edge. Here you can see it pinned in place.

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I whip stitched around the top edge and the sides to secure the layers in place, but I left the bottom edge open.

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I made a little bit of bias tape (I had maybe an inch leftover when this was done!) out of some lace. I sewed this around the top and side edges to finish them nicely.

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Now the two pieces were mostly done and could be sewn together. Here they are pinned in place. I sewed them together with thread that was doubled up. I was sewing through two layers of stiffened felt so I used a big needles and pliers to help guide it.

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And when that was done I cut out the cap. I took a few measurements and then guessed what the shape and size should be. Not the most professional method but it worked!

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The bottom edge was gathered slightly then tucked between the top band and the layer of lining. I sewed it in place with small whip stitches.

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Then the top  layers was gathered slightly towards the center and pinned between the brim and the brim lining.

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Here is a shot of how it looked inside.

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And after everything had been sewn down! After all that work it was finally starting to look like a bonnet.

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I made up some ties from strips of cotton sateen. These got sewn just inside the interior of the bonnet. And then it was time for decorating!

The roses I planned on using for decorating were a bright orangey red which didn’t really match. So I used a watercolor brush and some copic inks to darken the edges to a deeper shade.The one in the middle/slightly towards the left is unpainted so you can see the difference.

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I glued those on along with the pearly strands of white flowers, and it was done!

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I think this bonnet is very pretty, and i’m happy with the shape and construction. But I made it too small, so I don’t love how it sits on my head. I also need to add another tie, or combs to the back because it is really unflattering on my jaw when it is tied tightly, but it tends to shift and fall when it’s tied loosely.

I attempted to take photos of this worn but the lighting went to crap and I didn’t end up with usable images. But I did get a bit of video footage of me wearing it (I was filming it for a costume spotlight) and that can be watched here!

Now onto the shoes. I actually plan on making a pair of Regency slippers from leather and velvet in the near future, since I want them to match a dress i’ll be starting soon. But I didn’t make these shoes, I bought them from amazon, you can see the listing here.

They aren’t very comfortable or well made, but for $18 I wasn’t expecting a lot. I bought them because I really liked the pointed toe, and found the silhouette to be quite similar to shoes from the early 1800s.

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Funnily enough the model of these shoes is “Angie – 18” which is my name and current age, which is kind of a weird coincidence!

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I made some bias tape from cotton sateen. It was folded in half and glued down around the foot opening with the creased edge being visible. I used E6000 to secure it and a few dozen binder clips to keep it in place while the glue dried. The raw edge was trimmed with pinking shears and dipped in fray check to prevent it from unraveling in the future.

Then I made cute little bows for the front.

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Here they are with the bows attached! I glued on some of the pearl/white fake flowers as well. I’m really happy with how these look.

I just wish I had used a little more precision with the glue gun! There is some visible glue which i’m not very proud of. I might try and fix that in the future, but even if I don’t it’s not a big deal. I doubt anyone will be getting that close to my feet, or even see these underneath my dress!

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And that’s it for the accessories! I’ll talk about the dress that goes with them soon.

Thanks for reading!