1918 Ensemble, Dressing for Downton

Today I’m dipping my toes into 1918, and the wonderful fashions it has to offer.

I actually researched this period quite heavily earlier in the year when I was pursuing a design job for something set in the early 20’s. The job didn’t work out, and it left me a little bitter towards the era. But this weekend my mom and I booked tickets to the Downton Abbey Exhibition and I thought it would be fun to wear an understated period costume to the event.

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The late nineteens are a perfect period for casual historical dress since the silhouette (though more modest than what is fashionable now) wasn’t dramatic like the early 1910’s, or the later 1920’s. Though corsets would have still been worn during this period, waistlines were starting to widen and you can get away without one. Perfect since I would have to wear this for four hours of public transit!

(it was also 2 days after Thanksgiving so a corset would not have been welcome regardless of the wear time…)

I based this ensemble mostly off of two ads: This one for the blouse, and this one for the skirt. I also made a coat to wear over it, which was based on ones from a winter Sears catalogue.

I had all the materials for this on hand, and made it over a 4 day period (some of those were half days with Thanksgiving and all). I’m really pleased with the end result and this may motivate me to make more vintage themed clothing to wear on a regular basis!

I started with the first piece: the camisole.

I draped this on my dress form. Getting the right amount of flounce at the hem to create the proper silhouette was probably the most difficult part.

This is it transferred to paper.

The body of the camisole is made from silk charmeuse. This particular cut was *very* off color, so one side is more yellow than the other, but it’s only really noticeable at the back.

I sewed a strip of wide cotton lace into the center (backed with more charmeuse) to serve as the statement of this blouse.

I’m not sure when this lace is from, but it came from a collection that included pieces from 1910. Based on the design and weight I would not be surprised if this lace was also from that period. I outlined it with some zig-zag edging to add a bit more texture.

The collar of the camisole is also charmeuse, but I backed it with fusible interfacing. Then I stitched a half inch away from each edge, and used that as a guide when turning the edges inward.

It was pinned to the top edge of the camisole, with the right side facing the wrong side. Once turned the right way out all the raw edges will be hidden!

Then I topstitched the bottom edge down.

The bottom edge was gathered slightly at the front and sewn to an interfaced waistband.

The final addition were straps, made from bias cut strips sewn into tubes.

The back closes with three glass buttons. This is the first time I’ve done functional button holes in…3 years? Maybe longer?

I finally bought a home sewing machine, which though slower than my industrial, has some stitches and features that I’ve missed! The automatic buttonhole is one of those things.

It is a SINGER 4423 Heavy Duty *, if you were wondering. I go more in depth about it (and all my sewing machines) in this video.

I used the camisole as a base for draping my next pattern: the blouse. I believe these pieces would have been combined in the 20’s, with a closure hidden on one side. But I thought making them separate would make the pieces more versatile. And the camisole also provides enough coverage that I didn’t need to wear a slip over my bra.

Here is the pattern I ended up with. It’s shaped by pleats below the shoulder with a drawstring waistband.

I cut all the pieces out from a thin, crisp, silk shirting. This fabric was a dream to work with – I’ve never had something make french seams easier!

I didn’t take a lot of progress pictures for this, since it came together in a single evening. But here you can see the main pieces assembled. All the edges were finished by machine with rolled 1/4″ hems. Seams were flat felled, or finished with lace binding. And the bottom edge was turned inward to create a channel for ribbon.

I tried to draft the sleeve pattern for this the historical way, but I got confused and made it up instead. This worked surprisingly well! Fit the armscye perfectly on my first try. I just had to adjust the length and width a little.

The cuffs were gathered by machine.

Then sewn onto the cuffs. The raw edges were bound with lace binding. I wanted to add button closures but didn’t get the buttons (or know what size they would be) until the day before wearing this piece, so I used hooks instead.

The sleeves were sewn on by machine, then the raw edge was bound.

I also made the collar. This was assembled from a layer of the checked silk, which was backed with interfacing, and a layer of silk charmeuse, which was supposed to be lining. I sewed the layers together with the wrong sides facing each other, then topstitched around the edge.

It looked great! Until my iron smeared burned goop all over the corners of the checked side. I couldn’t get it off, and I didn’t have a lot of fabric left…so I made the charmeuse side face out instead. I actually really like the contrast of this, so it was a happy accident. But it means the topstitching looks a little sloppy since it was originally done on the other side.

I sewed the collar on by machine, then tacked it down a half inch away from the edge to keep it in place. The final touch were silk covered 3/4″ buttons. Three on either side of the bodice, and two on each cuff.

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I also added a snap just above the top button to secure it to the camisole.

And the back! I didn’t expect to love this as much as I do, but I’m really happy with it. It’s delicate yet structured and so different from anything I’ve done before.

I usually shy away from thin or slippery fabrics, unless I’m using them as an overlay. But making a tailored piece out of them was surprisingly easy and fun – I think this will motivate me to branch out more with my fabric choices.

Unfortunately the skirt didn’t go as well. At all. My first attempt was made from a beautiful wool, but the finished skirt looked awful. It had a wide, rounded waistband that made me look so heavy.

There was also way too much fabric, and it drooped at the seams. It was supposed to have pockets, which I tried making out of a contrasting wool, but then there was way too much contrast. So I remade them from matching fabric and it looked even worse! The whole thing was an unsalvageable mess.

Attempt number two was made in three hours from a purple chevron fabric I got from the plaiditudes collection at Jo-anns. I draped the skirt design on my dress form, then used the muslin as a pattern, adding seam allowances by eye. It was SO messy, but the end result turned out a million times better than my first attempt.

This skirt has way less volume, and has pleats in the back instead of gathers. The waistband is still wide, but it’s straight which is a lot more flattering. And there is decorative seaming down the front instead of pockets.

It’s not my best work, but it fit, and it looked pretty good!

I think the same can be said about the jacket. This piece was actually drafted, partially assembled, and completely cut out over a year ago – I even made a video about it. I planned on this being my winter coat for 2016, but after buying a glorious winter coat from J-Crew I lost interest.

The jacket also had some issues I wasn’t happy with. I ran low on material so I couldn’t make the skirt as wide or long as I wanted (it actually has plenty of volume, so I’m sort of glad for that now). I also had to ignore the grain line on some pieces, and didn’t have enough left for a matching hat which I was originally really excited about.

Plus the topstitching on this jacket was plagued with problems. It kept skipping stitches, which meant I had to sew over them again, leaving backstitch marks. This was made worse by my plan to use contrasting stitching during construction.

Even though this was only a year ago, I’ve learned a lot about my machine since then and working with heavier fabrics in general. Unfortunately that helps me moving forward, not with the issues this jacket already had. To fix the topstitching I would have had to completely disassemble the bodice and remove it all by hand. And that still wouldn’t resolve the grain line or length issues.

But I already had a lot done. So I decided to take a half day and get it finished, fully knowing that it was impossible to make it perfect given its other issues.

Finishing it included:

Figuring out which pieces went together

Figuring out wtf I was thinking with the pocket design (the required topstitching would have sewn them shut..)

Sewing the entire bottom half together

Hemming it

Sewing the cuffs on

Attaching / lining sleeves

Attaching bottom half

Lining the waistband

Sewing in closures

Tacking the collar

Sewing on buttons

…in less than a day.

Surprisingly, it turned out okay! I’m not going to share close ups since the finishing isn’t great at all. The interior skirt seams were left raw, and the topstitching  got a little messy at points. But it’s finished, and I love the shape and design of it. Hopefully I can reuse the pattern for a similar jacket, made to my current standards.

It’s a little wrinkly from yesterday.

And that is it! Four pieces in four days. All together I think they looked lovely. And it was surprisingly comfy and weather appropriate!

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I accessorized the ensemble with a pair of Katie & Kelly shoes (these were like $12 on clearance at DSW last year) and the Authentically Academic bag from Modcloth. I had gloves from the 40’s with me too, along with a 50’s themed pair of Quay sunglasses…so it was a little all over the place, but very retro.

For my hair I slept with a mixture of 3/4″ and 1″ curlers in, all wound inward towards my face. In the morning I brushed them out, then tucked the ends under and pinned them to the base of my scalp.

Sort of how you would do a faux bob, but the volume from the curls makes it look more like a fancy up do. I teased my bangs a bit and pinned them to the side. Then sprayed my hands with hairspray and used them to smooth and flatten the top before setting it with a heavy misting. It’s probably more of a 40’s style than 1918, but I felt it looked passable.

Any loose bits are probably from me trying to adjust bobby pins after putting the blouse on and getting the buttons caught in it. That happened several times.

That is it for today! Thanks for reading!

My next post will be about the exhibit itself!

Making an 18th Century Redingote

Todays post is about a real doozy of a dress that I made over the last two weeks. It consists of a redingote, petticoat, hat, and fichu. I even bought some fancy period appropriate shoes to go with it!

I’m going to split this into two blog posts – one about the redingote, and another about the accessories. Both posts should be published back to back, with photos of this ensemble following on Monday.

This project was driven by the idea of making an 18th century witch costume. This has been in my head  ever since discovering this magazine page, which is the 1890s take on a 1700s inspired witch fancy dress costume.

I felt very strongly throughout making this that is was a witch costume. I think the hat made me think of pilgrims, which reminds me of the salem witch trials. The timeline for those things doesn’t even line up, but it was so clear in my head while constructing it.

However looking at it now, this costume doesn’t actually have anything that makes it “witchy”. So i’m not sure why I felt that way about it. But that was definitely in my mind while working on it (especially the hat)! And this motivated some of the choices later on so I thought it was worth mentioning.

As far as design, I’ve always wanted to make a tall 18th century hat, and been interested in redingotes since discovering them during my riding habit research a couple years back.

Then during a visit to Fabric Mart in PA I discovered an orange/brown striped silk taffeta which seemed perfect for an autumn themed 18th century ensemble. I combined that with a suiting fabric I had around, and some other scraps, and this piece was born!

My inspiration was originally this piece, but that was more of an inspiration to make a redingote, not something that shaped the design. For the collar and cuff details I used this as a major reference. And I used more elaborate examples, like this, to justify the long impractical train.

To be honest, I didn’t do a lot of research on redingotes prior to making this. I was too impatient to delve deeply into it before getting started!

From my understanding, “Redingote” was a term used to describe riding and hunting costumes for both men and woman (interchangeable with the riding habit). But *most* plates and pieces described as redingotes have a skirt extending from the waist to the ground, and are ofter paired with contrasting petticoats.

Women’s riding habits were usually two matching garments, with a shorter flared jacket and skirt with side closures.

It also seems that the term redingote was later used to describe open front day dresses that lacked the practicality that most riding habits have, but still have some of the military style detailing. Mine definitely falls into the latter, impractical category.

This project began with a bodice mockup. It’s three pieces, with the collar incorporated in each piece (as opposed to being sewn on later). I also used very appropriately themed mock up materials!

The mock up fit pretty well, I was thrilled with how the collar looked. There were only minor alterations to be made at the centerfront and straps.

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For the first time in a long while, I made this bodice without a heavy duty base layer. I was worried the seams would get too thick if I did, and lighter dresses are always more comfortable to wear. So I cut the “base” from quilting cotton.

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The lining is a suiting fabric I bought online for $3 a yard. It’s a low quality suiting, but I like the texture it has. And it’s a weird greyish light brown that matches the brown stripes in the taffeta really well.

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And the exterior is the striped taffeta! Carefully cut out so the back seam would line up.

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The cotton and suiting were layered, then assembled together. The cotton adds a bit of stiffness to the flimsy suiting.

The seam allowances were turned inward and stitched down to create boning channels.

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The bones are all plastic, purchased from onlinefabricstore.net.

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The construction process was repeated with the silk taffeta. This material was on clearance for $8/yard, which is hard to beat for silk! Five yards of it went into this dress.

I managed to get the back seam matched up without basting – I was very pleased!

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I sewed the lining to the silk with the right sides facing each other – I stitched around the collar and waistline, only leaving the arm holes and front edges open. Then I turned it the right way out and used embroidery floss to stitch around the edges. This added a bit of texture, which I liked.

Unfortunately as a whole, I didn’t like it. It looked dull.

The suiting didn’t have enough contrast with the silk, and the collar didn’t look as big and dramatic as I wanted. I didn’t have enough material to recut things, so I decided to sew piping around the collar. This made it appear slightly larger, and more interesting with the addition of a new fabric.

This piping is made from brown poly taffeta over cotton cord. I had the taffeta leftover from the brown doublet I made several years ago. The piping was made by machine, but sewn on by hand.

All the raw edges were turned inward and tacked down with whip stitches. Unfortunately these are on the outside of the bodice, which I don’t like, but they are hidden by the collar.

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The sleeves were a lot of trial and error. I based them on a Norah Waugh pattern, but they ended up totally different. I cut the sleeve cap way down and played around with the width. I wanted them to be tight, but allow more mobility than the original pattern did. I also wanted to get them on and off without having to add closures at the wrist.

Boy were these a terror. The mock up looked good, but the finished sleeves were an inch too big! I took them in three times before the looked okay. Then I made the cuff, and sewing those on made the sleeve too tight. So I had to remove the cuff, remove the lining of the sleeve, let the sleeve out, then resew on the cuffs.

They still aren’t perfect – they are a little wrinkly and baggy around the upper arm. Maybe i’ll redo them someday.

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The cuffs were made from the same suiting, but I backed them with interfacing. The edges were turned inward by hand, then piping was sewn on.

The piping for these was made very carefully, there are gaps without cord so the pieces can overlap without additional bulk. And the cord ends before the seam allowance starts, so there isn’t bulk there either.

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The sleeves were finished with a lace ruffle. I used a lace with a feathered trim, which adds a really nice texture.

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The lace was gathered by machine, then whip stitched into the cuffs by hand.

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Here it is on the dress form. At this point the only thing left were closures, and the skirt. The closures consist of 6 hooks and bars that secure the bodice one inch to the left of the center front.

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The buttons were placed on either side of the closures, spaced evenly from the center front. I planned on looping lacing made from taffeta around these, to create an effect similar to the one seen in my main reference. But the lacing wouldn’t stay on, the shank of the buttons wasn’t long enough.

I don’t mind it without the lacing, but I still want to add it at some point since it was part of my original plan.

I don’t have many pictures of the skirt, because it was made in three hours the day before photographing this costume. It’s two 63″ x 58″ rectangles sewn together, with the bottom edges rounded out. I turned the edges inward by a half inch twice, then whip stitched them down by hand.

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The top edge was pleated with 1/4″ pleats, then sewn to the bodice.

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I left the top edge of this raw, and didn’t whip stitch the seam allowance down since i’m not completely sure if I like the skirt positioning. I think it sits too far back at the bodice, so I might redo the pleats before finishing it properly.

And that is it! Overall I like this garment. My only complaint is that it’s a little big. My seam allowances must have gotten screwed up somewhere, the silk is almost baggy on top of the lining (though this could also be related to the lack of a thick base layer). The sleeves are still a bit big too.

But it was really comfy! And I think the fabrics and proportions work really nicely in the finished piece.

Thanks for reading – keep an eye out for the following posts!

An Orange Brocade Dress – Making a 17th Century Costume, Part Two

Welcome to part two of making my Orange Brocade dress, if you missed part one it can be read here. That post ended with a fitting, and binding the arm openings of the bodice. This post will cover everything else – from the sleeves, to the skirt, chemise, and hat! It was originally going to be divided into three posts, but since I’ve been off my blogging game recently I thought you deserved them all at once.

Here is what I ended up with…

And here is how I did it!

Since my fitting was successful, it was time to move onto the sleeves. Like the bodice, I copied the pattern from Norah Waugh’s “The Cut of Women’s Clothes: 1600-1930“*. The pattern is kind of ridiculous, with a bunch of marks that aren’t labeled (seen here). Some markings are for the paned portions, others for knife pleats, gathering, or cartridge pleats. It’s also a lot smaller than I would have expected, being less than 30″ wide.

But this totally worked in my favor since I had barely any material left. After a mock up and a few alterations I cut the sleeves out, and lightly gathered them.

The gathering is only where the paned portions will be. Then there are knife pleats at the lowest portion of the sleeve, which will sit under the arm.

Then I made the paned portion of the sleeves. These are strips of the same brocade, with the ‘wrong’ side facing outward so they appear darker. I turned the edges of these strips inward twice by hand, to prevent fraying. Then embroidered ribbon lace was stitched on by hand to both edges.

There are only 3 panes for each sleeve, which matches Waugh’s pattern. I planned on adding more, but lack of material got in my way once more.

These were sewn onto the sleeves, and completely cover the gathering.

Now it was time for cartridge pleats. You’ll see these on most sleeves from this period and they are glorious. But they usually require a lot of fabric, a thick fabric, or a combination of the two. Otherwise they can look pretty bad. And since my sleeves did not have a lot of material, and are made from a very thin brocade, I had to fake this.

So I cut out facings for the top and bottom edge of the sleeves, made from cotton. Then I marked a line half an inch away from the bottom edge of the facing to indicate seam allowances. And finally, I marked vertical lines every half inch all the way across the facing, except for where the paned detailing is.

Then I cut up pieces of cord (I used 1/4 cord made for upholstery piping that felt almost papery) and sewed a piece onto every. Single. Line.

I hemmed the bottom edge of the facings, then sewed them onto the sleeves with the right sides facing each other. I turned the facing inward and stitched a quarter inch away from the edge to secure it in place.

Then I got out my heavy duty thread and sewed through the facing and top layer of fabric, between each piece of cording. This created the appearance of full cartridge pleats, while only using 1/2″ of fabric and no stiffening!

There are two rows of stitching to secure these, approximately half an inch apart.

I sewed the back edge up with a french seam.

Then made cuffs out of strips of brocade that is backed with ribbon.

The cuffs were sewn on by hand, then covered with embroidered ribbon and the trim I used on the neckline of the bodice. For some reason the cuffs gaped outward at the hem, so I had to hand stitch tiny darts into them. I’m not thrilled with that, but it isn’t obvious unless you get really close up.

The sleeves were pinned in place.

And sewn on with lots of tiny whip stitches.

And that’s about it for the bodice! After another fitting I added a modesty panel, and it was finished.

I’m pretty ecstatic with how this turned out. The fit and the way the materials work together is even better than I had hoped. The skirt didn’t go quite as well, but it all evens out.

The skirt for this project was an adventure. Not because the patterning was difficult – it’s basically rectangles with a sloped top. It’s the waistline that had me stumped. But we’ll get to that later.

Step one was cutting out four 42″ wide panels for the skirt, then sewing them together. This was easier said than done, since I wasn’t sure what petticoats I would be wearing with this, or how much volume the cartridge pleats would provide. So I had to guess the length. But I couldn’t cut the panels too long, since then I wouldn’t have enough fabric for the sleeves. It was stressful!

Once I managed that I sewed the pieces together, with seams at the center front, center back, and sides. The skirt opens from the front, so 10″ of the center front seam was left open.

I also sewed the front seam with a 5″ seam allowance, and with the wrong sides facing each other. Then ironed it open. This causes the darker “wrong” side of the fabric to be visible, and added more contrast after sewing on the trim.

For some reason I don’t have photos of any of those steps, but hopefully you’re still with me!

Next up was the pleating. Much like with the sleeves, I created a “facing” for the top edge of the skirt, which had guidelines marked.

The skirt actually had enough fabric in it to do real cartridge pleats (unlike the sleeves, where I needed to fake it). But the brocade I’m using is very thin, so I would have had to back the fabric with something thicker. And I was worried that would make the pleats stick out too much, creating more of an Elizabethan effect.

So I used cord to pad the pleats. These were cut into one and a half inch lengths.

Then sewn onto the cotton facing, and pinned to the top edge of the skirt.

I turned the facing inward to hide the raw edge, and it was ready for pleating!

After doing half the skirt, it became very clear to me that the cords were wayy too close together. The skirt would have had a waist of 60″ if I kept going!

So I started over and used a seam ripper to remove every other piece of cord.

When I resewed it the pleats were a lot deeper, and the waistline was much smaller.

Now it was time to add the waistband…that seems easy, right?

For most skirts from most periods, it would be.  But 17th century waistbands are a mystery to me because they don’t seem to exist. 

It’s a known fact that most bodices from this period had tabs to prevent the heavily boned bodices from digging into the wearers waist. Which means to cover the tabs, the skirt needs to go over the bodice. Except the waistband for the skirt isn’t visible in any. Of. These. Paintings.

Also – the point at the front of these bodices are visible in every. Single. Painting. Which means the skirt is worn over the tabs, and under the front of the bodice.

You may be thinking that an easy solution is sewing the skirt to the bodice, and having it close down the back. But that interrupts the cartridge pleats and destroys the shape of the skirt.

In this extant garment a small waistband is shown, and after many hours of frustrated searching without finding a better alternative, I decided to go with it. So my waistband is made from strips of brocade that were reinforced with interfacing and folded like double fold bias tape. The skirt was sewn to it by hand, with upholstery thread.

I actually used upholstery thread to do the pleating too, since it’s less likely to break under strain.

Here it is!

And from the interior.

I left the front of the waistband un sewn, since unlike the majority of the skirt, the front ten inches are not gathered. Instead they are left flat, and help create the smooth front, large rump effect that was popular in the mid 1600s (and continued to grow in popularity in the 1700s!).

Here you can see it in it’s current state on my dress form.

I realized that the waistline needed to be lower at the front so it could tuck under the bodice, so I cut several inches off.

Then I tried the skirt on and marked the hem. The skirt is hemmed symmetrically, but not evenly, since it was longer in some places than others, and I couldn’t predict the correct length when cutting the panels since I wasn’t sure how much volume the cartridge pleats would provide.

(The more volume a skirt has, the farther it will flare out, and the longer it needs to be)

And now it was time for sewing on the trim. I used seven yards of embroidered mesh lace that I bought on etsy. This was hand sewn on with two rows of stitching – one on either edge.

As you can see, down the center front (where the interior fabric was turned outward) the trim stands out more.

And on the hem it’s a bit more subdued.

Annoyingly, I was 4″ short of trim. Which left this gap at the back. I didn’t want to buy more trim, since it was only sold in 7 yard lengths, and took several weeks to arrive (at this point I planned on finishing this costume much earlier). My fix for this was sewing the narrower trim down the center back, which covers where the wider trim ends. There is still a gap, but it looks more intentional.

Then I sewed the remaining bit of the waistband onto the skirt, treating it like double fold bias tape.

The final few things to do where redoing things I had already marked as being finished. These things weren’t difficult, but they definitely weren’t fun. So I put them off for two months and only revisited this project earlier in the week.

(oops)

Thing one was tacking down fusible interfacing I had ironed to the center of the skirt to keep it smooth. It had started to pull away from the fabric and refused to stick.

It went from this:

To this! Much better.

I also had a problem with the waistband gaping where the cartridge pleats started. This was fixed with a little knife pleat that I tacked down by hand.

As far as closures go, the waistband attaches to the bodice with a hook and bar on either side. The bar is placed just above where the tabs end.

The slit closes with snaps. Half the snaps are actually sewn to a modesty panel, so the front of the skirt doesn’t overlap.

And that’s IT! After many weeks of work, and a lot of procrastination, this dress is finished! And I love it so much.

The only fault I have with it (aside from the gab in the trim) is that it could have used an extra half inch in the waist, since it’s hard to get the back to close completely when lacing it myself. But it does lace all the way closed if I put the effort in (which I didn’t for these photos…)

This dress will be worn with two accessories. The first is the chemise, which shows slightly at the neckline and underneath the sleeves.

For this I used two yards of sequin mesh – which looks beautiful, but those sequins are like little knives once you have the pressure of the bodice overtop…so I regret that.

 I also didn’t have enough fabric to make this the way I wanted. Or any trim that matched it. I regret that too.

I used the dress pattern as a base for the arm openings and neckline, I just made the bodice much bigger and longer so I could get it over my head.

I also used the sleeve pattern as a base – I just cut it to be more narrow.

After gathering the sleeves I sewed them to a gathered strip of lace, which had more of the sequin mesh sewn onto the hem. I’d originally planned on doing all of this out of sequin mesh, before I realized I didn’t have enough fabric.

The body of the chemise was originally made from two pieces of fabric, but it was comically small. I ended up using what little fabric I had left to form a gusset at the front – this looks really funny, but made it wearable, which was nice!

The top edge is trimmed with the scalloped edge of the fabric.  I hand stitched the seam allowance down to form a channel.

Then I threaded two strands of ribbon through the channel to create a drawstring effect – allowing me to lower or raise the neckline so it matches the neckline of the dress.

I sewed the sleeves on, and it was done! It came together in a few hours and looks quite nice underneath the dress.

The final accessory is a hat. As I said in my first post about this project, the inspiration is this painting. I bought a yard of blue stretch velvet for the hat, along with some bright orange feathers.

I made the base out of felt weight interfacing, with wire sewn into the edges. The brim was lined with brocade, then covered in velvet. The top portion was covered with velvet, then lined with cotton and sewn together.

I bound the brim with gold brocade, and covered the stitching with orange and gold sequins.

I sewed the pieces together and covered the join point with some braided gold cord.

I trimmed it with a gold bow and the feathers. I originally wanted to add flowers, but it ended up looking messy.

With the hat done, this project as a whole is done!

Though there are things I would change if I could, I’m really pleased with this project. I love the dress and the trims and the hat – and even the chemise, with it’s mismatched lace. I’m already brainstorming another (slightly less elaborate) 17th century project. But I may hold off for a couple months.

Thanks for reading – I hope you enjoyed! And hopefully I will be able to photograph this soon.

 

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

It has taken me longer than expected to write this, but I finally have the last “Making of” post about my orange 1890’s dress to share!

Part one can be seen here and shows the making of the bodice. Part two is posted here and focuses on the sleeves. This post will be about the skirt and some of the finishing details. I didn’t take a lot of photos of these steps but hopefully I took enough for it to make sense!

Since I was unhappy with my previous 1890’s skirt attempt I decided to use a pattern for this one. I once again referenced 59 Authentic Turn-of-the-Century Fashion Patterns *, using the pattern from one of the ladies street costumes. Of course I altered it to match my measurements, but the shaping of the pieces is the same.

Here is the finished pattern. The side and back pieces were both cut out twice and the front panel (the narrowest one) was cut on a folded edge of the material.

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After cutting it out from the material I assembled the pieces with french seams and roughly pinned them onto my dress form.
I was originally a bit disappointed by the slim silhouette since SO much fabric went into this skirt, but I liked the shape enough to stick with it.
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I turned the top few inches of the back edge inward twice, so the raw edge was hidden. Then I sewed the edge down. I left this portion of the skirt open and sewed the rest of the back seam normally.

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Then I gathered the back of the skirt by hand.

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The silhouette looked a bit fuller after this, which I was happy with. However I was not happy with the length of this skirt, it’s a whole inch shorter than I had envisioned. There was no room to do the pretty hem I wanted.

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To make things even more annoying, the back was too long and had to be cut down.

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I had to scrap my ideas for a one inch rolled hem and chose to face the hem with some suiting instead. I sewed this on with a quarter inch seam allowance to keep the hem as long as I could.

I don’t think this was a bad idea, but I should have used a lighter (or stiffer) fabric. This one didn’t iron smoothly and the hem ended up looking puckered even though I was very careful when sewing it. It bothers me to the point that I plan on redoing it soon, which is pretty drastic for me!

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After hemming the skirt I sewed loops and buttons onto the top portion of the back seam to keep the opening I left closed. I’m not sure where my pictures of that went, but the process was identical to adding buttons and loops to the sleeves.

Then  I sewed the bodice onto the skirt with the wrong sides facing each other, so the raw edges are on the outside.

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 I covered the raw edges with a waistband that has a pleat running horizontally across it to add interest. It was originally supposed to be gathered but that didn’t look very nice so I pleated it instead!

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The final touch was adding a matching modesty panel to the back to hide the foundation garments that were peeking out from the loops the last time I tried it on.

This is just a rectangle with the edges whip stitched inward, then it was whip stitched to the lining.

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And that was it! Here is the back all done up. Not historically accurate, but I love the buttons and how far down they extend.

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Here is the front.

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A close up of the brooch~

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And pictures of it on the dress form – keep in mind that it doesn’t really fit my dress form, the silhouette is a lot more dramatic when I wear it over a corset.

There is also a bit of petticoat peeking out since the hem was shorter than I had planned. Even though I was annoyed by this, it was kind of a blessing in disguise since it forced me to shorten my petticoats which were all way too long.

Overall I really like this dress. I’m so happy with the fit, and how light it is. The fabric is beautiful and was wonderful to work with – even though the color isn’t my favorite, I like how striking it is. And the button details make me so happy.

The only thing I don’t like is the hem, but I’m confident that can be fixed.

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With the dress discussion done, it’s time to talk about the hat! I’m not the biggest fan of hats from the 1890’s since I feel like they are out of proportion with the full sleeves. I looked through a lot of references and couldn’t find anything inspiring (except for the ones with birds on them…but one bird hat is enough for me, or at least for this year).

At least until I came across this fashion plate – I’m not sure where this is from or if it was even drawn in the 1890’s, but I love how different it is. It’s like a twentieth century bicorne.

I made the base from interfacing.

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I bound the seams by hand, then sewed wire into the edges.

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I made a cap from interfacing too. The cap was covered with brown silk and lined with cotton, then sewn to the brim.

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The brim is covered with brown silk as well, and lined with some leftover orange material.

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For decoration I used a peach ostrich feather across the top.

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And the side is decorated with fake roses, leaves, and some small brown feathers.

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It can be worn in a variety of ways – with the feather facing the front, or either side. I ended up wearing it like this and pinning a comb into the cap to keep it in place.

And speaking of hats, I wanted to take a minute to mention the video I made about all my hats. It shows them in detail, along with how they look worn and a bit about the construction process/period they come from. If you like hats, you might enjoy it! It can be watched here.

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And I think that’s it for this post! The dress is done, the hat is done, and so are all the things that go underneath them. I’ve already photographed this project (in its natural habitat, a pumpkin patch) and as soon as I get done editing  I will post them too!

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!

Making a Plaid Dress, 1860s, Part Three

This blog post is really overdue. Usually I’m a few weeks, or even months late when it comes to blogging about projects but in this case i’m years late. This project was originally completed in November 2014! I never got around to writing about it and I have no idea why.

This past November I fixed it up, made a matching headpiece, and got photos of the project. So now seems like an appropriate time to finally write about it. If you would like to read about making the bodice there is a blog post about that here, and a blog post about making the sleeves here!

Usually skirts from this period would be cut from gored panels. Because gored panels create full skirts with less material at the waist, and require less fabric to make. Win-win all around.

But doing that requires sewing certain seams on a the diagonal, and that wouldn’t look very nice on the linear plaid material that I was working with. So I decided to make a simple rectangle skirt from three 48″ by 55″ panels. These got pinned together with the wrong sides of the fabric facing each other.

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I was very careful to make sure everything lined up perfectly. Then I sewed a half inch away from the raw edge, trimmed the seam allowance down to 1/4″ and folded the fabric so the right sides were facing each other and the raw edge was hidden.

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To make sure the plaid pattern would line up perfectly I used basting stitches instead of pins to secure everything.

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Then I sewed a half inch away from the edge, again, to create a french seam. Once ironed everything looked pretty good! Not perfect, unfortunately, but it was close(ish)…

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I folded the bottom edge inward by a half inch and basted it in place.

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Then folded it inward by an inch so the raw edge was hidden.

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And stitched across the top edge with a cross stitch!

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I marked the pleat placement across the top edge. This skirt was knife pleated (the easiest and prettiest type, in my opinion). Two thirds of the pleats go in one direction, and one third in the other direction.

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Once the pleats are marked it’s just a matter of playing connect the dots (or lines, I guess)!

I pinned them in place.

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And put it on my dress form to see how it looked. At the time I was really happy with it, now I feel otherwise. How did I think that level of volume was okay for this period? It looks so sad!

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But on the positive side of things, I really like how the pleats look!

After pleating everything I sewed across the top edge and did up the back seam (with a french seam). As per usual I left the top eight or so inches open and folded the raw edge inward twice, then secured it with whip stitches. This opening lets me get in and out of the skirt.

Since I didn’t want the petticoats to be visible through the portion of the skirt left open, I used snaps sewn onto each side to hold it closed.

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I did a terrible job documenting this part of the process but the next step was making the waistband. I cut out a strip of plaid material and interfaced it, then folded over all the edges.

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I made piping from bias cut strips of matching green fabric, flannel (as lining), and cording. I don’t have photos of the piping but I do have photos of the raw materials which is probably not super helpful.

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Then I sewed the piping around each edge of the waistband and sewed the waistband onto the skirt with whip stitches.  I covered the raw edges of the waistband interior and the top edge of the skirt with cotton lining, which was also sewn in with whip stitches.

This wasn’t the best decision. The thickness of this fabric (especially when pleated!) added a lot of bulk to the waistband. The top edge should have been finished separately and folded down, so it sits below the waistline and adds volume to the skirt instead of adding extra inches to the waistline.

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I sewed a button hole into one side of the waistband, and sewed a button onto the other. With that done the skirt was finished!

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Here is what it looked like worn, over a bunch of random petticoats and with the cotton sateen corset I made to go with it.

The skirt is so…meh

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This November, when the fall colors were in full swing I decided I wanted more photos of this project. Which required fixing the skirt problem.

Which meant I needed to find something to make it fuller. I don’t have a round hoop skirt or elliptical hoop skirt that would be appropriate for this period, but I DO have a spanish farthingale which is kind of similar. To make the shape of it a little nicer I folded a petticoat in half and safety pinned it to the back of the farthingale.

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Then tossed a cotton/tulle petticoat over the whole thing to round it out. It’s a little lumpy, but it definitely has the appropriate level of volume.

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And my skirt had enough volume to sit nicely over the petticoat without disrupting the pleats! All I had to do was re-hem it to suit the new shape. This involved raising the front by almost three inches, and the sides by an inch.

Another change was sewing three snaps into the back of the waistband, which line up with three snaps sewn onto the back of the bodice. This weighs down the back of the bodice so it doesn’t move when I raise my arms, and prevents the skirt from “sinking” and showing the bottom edge of the bodice.

As a side note, I love the silhouette this petticoat and farthingale combination gives. It’s a little flat at the bottom since the top petticoat isn’t long enough, but other than that I think it’s great. I’m so pleased that i’m now planning on using it underneath another mid 19th century gown, all i’ll have to do is make a more appropriate, ruffly petticoat to go overtop!

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I also decided to make a headpiece to match the project. I didn’t want to make a full bonnet, but I really liked the look of this partial bonnet. Though I didn’t have proper materials for that, so I combined the shape with the sheer/open appearance of this evening cap from the same period.

I made my pattern out of newsprint.

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Then cut it out of felt weight interfacing. I tried it on at this point and realized I made it way too big – I had to take it in by three inches!

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I closed the opening and sewed wire to the interfacing so it became shapeable.

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Then I got to decide on materials. I chose to use the matching green material (which was used to pipe the waistband) and a bit of vintage lace.

I ended up using a half yard of crochet lace in a deep beige color and a stained lace trimmed mesh collar in the same shade.

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I covered the opening with the lace. Then I removed the binding from the collar (and the stains), gathered it slightly, and sewed it onto the top edge. This creates a bit of texture, and a ruffle, which is something this costume was really lacking!

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I covered the interfacing with one inch wide strips of bias tape, which were made from the green fabric. I left the tails of the bias tape really long so I could use them as ties for the bonnet, which will keep it in place when worn.

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The edges of the bias tape were whip stitched together and then it was done!

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Here is the project all together!

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And here it is when worn!

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Look at how much that side profile has improved thanks to the petticoat switch!

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I’m very pleased with how this whole ensemble turned out in the end, even though it took a while to get there!

I’ll do my best to edit the rest of the photos we took in November and have those up soon…but no promises!

Thanks for reading!

Making a Black Lace Dress, Part Two

Today i’m blogging about making the skirt to match the black lace bodice which I posted about last week. This part of the project went better than the bodice, and ended up being pretty easy!

 The pattern is a simple 18.5″ long three quarter circle skirt. The finished length after seams will be seventeen inches, which is pretty short, but there will be a six inch ruffle sewn onto the hem so hopefully it will rest just above my knees.

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The skirt was cut out of the polyester shantung I used for the bodice. I had just barely enough left!

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 I sewed a layer of black petticoat net overtop so it would match the bodice. The bodice actually had two layers of petticoat net on it, but I figured the gathered black lace at the waistline of the skirt would make it look darker and balance out the color difference.

Also I didn’t have a lot of petticoat net leftover. The second layer would have been made up of three or four pieces which I didn’t think would look that good.

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I was going to do a normal rolled hem on this but I ended up having just enough one inch wide horsehair left. So I used that instead. I sewed the horsehair on by machine, then turned the hem over and sewed it down by hand with whip stitches.

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With the circle skirt done I switched over to working on the petticoat topper and ruffle. The petticoat i’m wearing under this is  my cheap leg avenue one, since I plan on traveling with this dress and that one can be squished into a small plastic bag. But that petticoat is shorter than this skirt and doesn’t have the level of volume I wanted.

Which is where the petticoat topper comes in! It adds the length I want and a bit more poof. And it gets sewn into the dress so the dress could even be worn without a petticoat and still have a bit of volume.

I cut twelve and eleven inch wide strips for the petticoat topper, and six and a half inch wide strips for the ruffle on the hem of the circle skirt. All of these were cut from a beige point d’esprit netting I got from Joanns. I was pretty impressed with this netting – I think I paid less than $3 a yard for it and it was really soft and easy to work with, while still creating a good amount of volume.

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Anyway! The eleven inch wide strips got gathered down and sewn onto the twelve inch wide strips.

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And then the top was gathered down and tah-dah! It doesn’t look like much here but trust me, it helps with the skirt shape.

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Then the six inch wide strips were sewn together and the twelve yard length was gathered down.

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That is some ruffly goodness right there. I left all of these strips unhemmed because I prefer the look of that. This netting is soft enough that it isn’t scratchy, and it doesn’t fray, so it doesn’t really need to be hemmed anyway.

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The ruffle got pinned on.

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And topstitched on. I could have sewn it on by hand but I didn’t think anyone would really notice.

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Here it is on the dress form – It looks a little uneven but I promise it isn’t!

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With that done I cut out the lace overlay. This was nineteen inches long and three yards wide. I figured after the top was gathered down it would fall just below the hem of the circle skirt and make a nice transition into the netting.

I did that, and it kind of worked but I didn’t like the result.

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So I ripped the gathers out and pinned the scalloped edge of the lace onto the point where the netting attaches to the circle skirt. Then I roughly pinned the top to the waistline.  I realize this looks messy right now, but I liked this soo much better!

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I sewed the lace onto the hem.

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Then gathered the top down and sewed it onto the waistline of the circle skirt.

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I thought it looked really lovely, but there was a slight problem.

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The scalloped edge kept flipping up and that looked bad.

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So I spent an hour hand sewing the scalloped edge onto the netting.

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And then it was done! Or almost done. I still have to glue on the rhinestones but everything else is finished. I love how this turned out. I think the fabrics look lovely together and it’s so pretty and delicate. I was worried the lace would look cheap (I think I paid like $6 a yard for it? so it was cheap) and that my dress would end up looking cheap. But that concern went away after getting it to this point.

Like the last blog post, this one has a video counterpart which can be watched here.

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And that’s it! Part three should be up on Friday and will talk about the collar.

Thanks for reading!

Making a Cinderella Inspired Dress, Part Two

DSC_4281RESIZEThis is part two about making my Cinderella inspired dress! It feels a bit weird to be blogging about this now, because I actually finished this several weeks ago. I need to up my blogging game, I’m so behind!

Anyway! This is part two and will focus on making the skirt. Part one can be read here, and it shows the process of making the bodice.

I’m actually using a piece of an old costume as the skirt for this one. Last year I made a medieval inspired suit based off of one worn in the show “Game of Thrones” I love the design of this piece but while making it pretty much everything that could go wrong went wrong.

The end result was too small at the shoulder, way too narrow in the sleeves, and landed a couple inches above my waistline. It looks okay on a dress form but is completely unwearable. You can see a picture of that here.

I decided to disassemble it and use the skirt as a base for this dress. Luckily the sleeves had enough fabric in them to make the bodice and matching headband!

Though I never posted the “Making of” post about this project, I do have a few progress photos of how I did it. These photos are less than a year old which seems so crazy, my progress photo quality has increased so much. Vacuuming regularly and seeking out natural lighting has done wonders for them.

The skirt is a basic circle skirt. I cut this pattern out on the fold, twice, so I had a full circle skirt.

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The skirt was hemmed with two inch wide horsehair braid, which was turned over and hand stitched into place. The seams were sewn normally, but bound with blue quilters cotton.

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And that was pretty much it! There was a six inch slash down the back to allow me to take it on and off…and I don’t have anything else to say about it!

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It was sewn onto the bodice of that costume, so I had to use a seam ripper to detach it for this project. Then I draped it over my petticoat (which I talk about making here) and the results weren’t so great. It was too long in the front and too short in the back, which was bad.

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To fix it I opened up the back seam and lowered the back half by a couple inches. I added a panel to the waist so it would sit this way permanently. I lifted the front by an inch and a half, then sewed a gored panel into the center back.

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It wasn’t too pretty at the top but the hem rested evenly!

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That meant I could move onto making the overlay. I bought a glitter organza with this in mind. Unfortunately it wasn’t the right fabric for an overlay, despite the sheerness. The organza had so much volume, it wanted to stick straight out like a tutu instead of draping over the skirt. I tried steaming it but that didn’t help at all.

I decided to stitch the organza to the underside of the circle skirt hem. It wasn’t the look I wanted, but it’s better than a tutu!

The overlay pattern is really basic, it’s made up of several rectangles.

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Those got french seamed together because this fabric frays horribly. It also sheds a lot, I tried hairspraying it at several stages and it didn’t help at all. You can’t touch it without being covered in glitter and when I walk around in the finished dress there is a little “Fairy Trail” of glitter that gets left behind.

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I pinned the lower edge of organza to the underside of the circle skirts hem.

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I used something resembling a whip stitch to hold it down. In this photo you can see how fancily I finished the circle skirts hem! I remember this taking me ages at the time, because it was one of my first cross stitch hem attempts. I think I watched like two seasons of American Pickers during the process haha.

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The top of the organza got gathered down to twenty seven ish inches. Then it was sewn onto the waistline of the circle skirt.

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I cut a slit down the back of the skirt to allow me to get in and out of it. Then I basted the layer of organza around it.

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I stitched bias tape around the edges, and turned it under.

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I had cut my overlay a little long, to correct this I gathered it over an inch away from the edge. Once it was attached to the skirt I decided to trim it down.

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And I had a functional, really pretty skirt!

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Even though this glitter pattern is a pain in the ass it’s so pretty.

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Now it was time to make the panniers! I used the same method for making these as I used with my Halloween Inspired dress which means they are made from rectangles.

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One of the longer edges gets hemmed, then the other three edges are gathered down. Mine were gathered down to twelve inches, and the end result looks like this!

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I sewed these onto a piece of ribbon, to keep them separated by the correct amount.

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The ribbon got pinned onto the skirt, then sewn. I tacked the panniers down in a few spots to make them lay nicely, and that was it! The skirt is complete! I love how it looks.

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But I wasn’t done yet. The skirt got sewn onto the bodice, then a zipper was added up the back. Both of these things went well, it was the whole trying it on part that went badly. By that I mean, I couldn’t really get it on. I decided to take out the zipper and do a lace up back. No problem!

Okay there was a little problem. I measured wrong. My eyelets were marked incorrectly and this fabric did not take eyelets well. I couldn’t heat my iron to a high enough temperature to attach interfacing (thicker fabric = easier to make smooth eyelets) without burning through the organza. So I was either going to have uneven, ugly, eyelets, or a bodice that didn’t fit.

Then my dad jokingly said “You should cover it with lace” which was brilliant. 

I let the dress out by and inch with folded strips of fabric.

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Then zipper got sewn in again. I tried on the bodice and it fit! So I covered up the failed attempts at eyelets with silver lace.

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It looks a little odd. Not ideal at all, but it totally worked.

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I stitched the lining in, which covered the raw edges of the skirt waist and the raw edges from letting the bodice out.

And with that my dress was done!

Back:

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Front:

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And here is how it looks worn! The headband is a plastic one I got from walmart. I covered it with two layers of quilt batting, then stitched the satin backed metallic fabric over it. The underside was pretty ugly so I lined it with more of that fabric.

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I have some final thoughts about this project which I would like to share. This may sound a bit negative, but I think it’s important to mention.

I wish I had stuck to my original plan. In the first blog post about this project I shared a sketch of what I had planned for this dress. I wanted to make a dress using the colors of the animated gown, and was going to style it to look like Cinderella (the headband and silver shoes). It would have a very full skirt and “Princessy” qualities, but the similarities would end there.

Somewhere along the way I changed my mind and ended up with something that is more than a Cinderella inspired dress, it’s really just a shorter version of the dress in the film but with more sparkle.  I LIKE the dress and I love the fabrics, but I wish I had committed to my original design – which was a lot more original and way more flattering.

Anyway! That’s all I wanted to say about that. There is a video about making this skirt too, which can be watched here if you are interested!

Thanks for reading!

Making a Fluffy, Feathered Dress, Part Two

It continues! This is the second post about making my fluffy ivory dress, the first post talks about the concept and how I made the skirt. It can be read here, and the video that goes along with it is posted here! I would suggest viewing those first, if you haven’t already.

Now we can move onto the bodice, which I think is a lot more exciting.

I draped the bodice on my dress form, but the process was a little different than usual since I was working around the shapes of various appliques. I draped fabric tightly around the form, then started pinning the appliques on top to determine the bodice shape.

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When I had an idea of where that was going I draped things properly and ended up with this! It has an odd, low neckline, which will eventually be covered by feathers.

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Off the form the fabric pattern looked like this. Because of the low neckline and my complete lack of bust I managed to make it all one piece, which is great! If I can avoid sewing princess seams I will.

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I transferred the fabric pattern to paper and marked out the boning channels. I decided to make the bodice very structured because I knew the lace/mesh/layers of fabric on the front would add bulk, and I really didn’t want to look bulky in the dress (or any dress).

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I cut strips of the jacquard i’m using for the bodice and ironed the edges inward to get three quarter inch trim. These will be used for boning channels and to cover any raw edges.

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I cut out the bodice pattern and marked out all the boning channels. Then I lined the edges up and pinned my trim down!

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Those all got topstitched down. The amount of pins proved to be a bit dangerous but I managed to avoid getting blood on the dress, so all is well!

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I also stitched a half inch away from the top edge, this creates a “stopper” for one end of the boning and provides a guideline for how long each bone should be.

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I used hooping wire for boning since I wanted it to be really stiff and straight. I tipped it with duct tape and wrapped the ends in scotch tape to make sure it wouldn’t move. Not the best method, but it is fast and works!

Then I stitched a half inch away from the bottom edge, creating another stopper so the boning can’t escape.

Finally I pinned the top edge over.

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It got stitched down by hand, so I wouldn’t break any needles on the boning! The bottom edge doesn’t get turned over since that seam allowance is needed when attaching the skirt.

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That bias tape I made earlier got pinned over the raw edge to finish it off. I really didn’t want to add lining to this bodice so I decided on bias tape instead.

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Here it is all stitched down – I did this part by hand too!

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And I had a nice, but very plain bodice. It was practically begging to be embellished.

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….so I did just that. This is actually my “test” to get a good idea of how to lay things out. I’m using leftover fabric from the skirts, lace, sequins, and feathers that are glued to buckram. I believe these are sold for fascinator decoration, but I bought them a long time ago for a hood that I never made.

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All that got unpinned and (kind of) arranged around the blank bodice.

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The first thing to be attached was the ruffled jersey. Then the white feathers were stitched on with upholstery thread. Normal cotton thread gets shredded when sewing buckram which is why I used a much heavier alternative. I pinned mesh mounted chiffon flowers (fussy cut from leftover skirt fabric) overtop.

I was aiming for a very layered, texture heavy type of look.

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Then I added lace to the center front, and finally, the ivory feathers!

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It was still looking a little boring, so I went ahead and added dozens of sequins.

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And it was pretty  much done!

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I was really happy with it, so I moved on with the finishing touches. The first thing to do was add eyelets. I wanted this dress to zip closed but I forgot seam allowances at the back of the dress, so it ended up being an inch smaller than it should be. I can lace myself into things that are too small, but zippers aren’t that forgiving, which is why I opted for grommets!

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And that was pretty much it, actually. I sewed on the skirt and stitched up the back with a french seam. I should probably finish the seam at the waist with bias tape, but i’m leaving it for now since none of the fabrics fray that much.

This is the finished dress.
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And a close up of the bodice!  One feather is trying to escape. I might have to pluck it, but hopefully hairspray can fix it.

Overall I’m really happy with this dress. I think it’s very pretty. It is similar in shape to my flower dresses and I don’t think I learned anything from making it, but sometimes you just want to make something fun that you know will turn out well!

DSC_2934Even though the dress is done, I did make a mesh overlay which has sleeves on it. So this project isn’t over!

Also there is a video about making this bodice, and it is posted here!

Thanks for reading!

Making a Fluffy, Feathered Dress, Part One

I’m really excited about this project! Not only is it a new project, it’s also the first dress in what will hopefully become a series.

This year i’m focusing on bigger projects, which are more detailed and elaborate. Which is great, and something I find really exciting. Unfortunately big projects take longer, which means I don’t have as much to blog about and don’t have any content for my youtube channel since the bigger the project, the harder it is to film.

So my new goal is to make a “Simple” project once a month – it’s can be a dress, jacket, skirt, or any combination of those things. Ideally the project will take less than twenty hours, incorporate items from my stash, and be completed in less than a week. Not only will this help break up the tediousness of elaborate historical costumes (which I love doing but can get tiresome) it will also give me more to blog about and something to film!

Now onto this specific project,

I’ve been watching old episodes of project runway recently, and it’s left me wanting to make something kind of…normal. As in not historically inspired at all. It actually has me feeling a bit inspired by Georgina Chapmans wardrobe of Marchesa dresses – they tend to involve a lot of lace and mesh, and have a light, airy quality to them. Something I wanted to incorporate into this dress.

At a trip to Joanns I took advantage of the presidents day sale and got some ivory mesh fabric with a laser cut floral chiffon print. I found the texture really interesting and paired it with a few materials I already own.

One of them is this crazy ruffled/gathered/sequined/striped jersey i’ve had for YEARS. I bought it with a project in mind when I first started sewing. It was crazy cheap for having so much texture (maybe $6 a yard?) but the project fell through and i’ve had it sitting in a bin for ages. I almost put it in a “Fabric I regret buying” post last year so i’m shocked and very pleased to find a project that suits it!

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I decided to pair that with some other materials I already have. They include: Feathers glued to buckram (why did I buy these?!), various beads, sequins and very pretty lace that I was given!

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And here is my original sketch, inspired by the textiles I chose. Some things ended up getting changed (mostly the sleeves) as I worked things out.

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So this post in particular is about the skirt! My dress actually ended up becoming three pieces, a jersey underskirt, a dress with a sheer overskirt attached, and an illusion neck mesh bodice with sleeves. The video that shows the process of making it is posted HERE!

 I’ll be going over the dimensions and process in more detail below.

The fabric i’m using this is a very strange sheer, striped, jersey with ruffles stitched in rows across it all. There is woven sequin trim dividing the ruffles every four and a half inches. I kept this all in mind when cutting my skirt pattern.

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Due to the nature of my fabric i’m making this a rectangle skirt with a ruffle. Rectangle skirts are the easiest skirts to make, since all they require are three rectangles of varying sizes. One rectangle for a waistband, another for the skirt “body” and another for the ruffle.

The general “Skirt Math” I use is that each rectangle measurement should be at least three times bigger than the last. So if your waistband is thirty inches, the skirt “body” should be at least ninety, and the ruffle should be two hundred and seventy (paired with whatever length you desire). This makes sure you will get a very full skirt!

I ended up making my skirt even fuller than that. And due to the amount of fabric I had the skirt “body” was cut as four panels instead of one. So here are the pattern pieces for the skirt I made:

One 29″x4″ rectangle (for the waistband – this is my waist measurement plus seam allowances)

Four 28″ x 20″ rectangles (for the skirt body)

Two 5.5″ x 160″ rectangles (for the ruffle)

And a three inch wide strip which I used to make bias tape.

Here are the panels for the main part of the skirt.

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And the strips cut to turn into ruffles! I cut these in the opposite direction as the main panels, hopefully this will add more texture.

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I had originally planned on hemming the strips before making ruffles, but a bit of experimenting with scraps made me realize I could get this fantastic effect by cutting off the woven trim. It creates this really neat fringe-y look which I LOVE. Suddenly the fabric I didn’t like but was trying to use up turned into something really interesting.

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Gathering it just made it look better!

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I gathered it the same way I always do, by shoving it under the foot of my machine as I go. Not the safest or most precise way, but It is fast and I love the results. I gathered this down to be the same length as the hem of all the main panels sewn together.

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After sewing the panels together (which took a while, I was careful with pinning and did my best to get all the stripes/ruffles to line up) I pinned on the ruffle.

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I sewed it on and gathered the skirt at the wasit. I gathered the top of the skirt by hand…then realized it was a couple inches too long, so I hiked it up at the waist and gathered it again. Another pro of rectangle skirts!

I was so ridiculously pleased with this that I decided to make it a stand alone piece, instead of being attached to a bodice/part of the dress. That way I can wear it with other pieces too. I see so many options with the skirt!

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Once I decided to make it a separate piece I went about making the waistband. I made it four inches wide, so I could fold it in half and sew the edges together to finish them.

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To finish the bottom edge I cut three inch wide strips of fabric on the bias, then folded the edges inward, and folded it in half. This creates double fold bias tape.

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Before sewing the waistband on I folded the top eight inches of the back edge over, this will get left open when I do up the back seam so I can get in and out of the skirt easily.

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Then the waistband got sewn on!

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And I did up the back seam. I chose to close this skirt with a single eyelet at the waist, leaving a slit in the back. Since this will be worn under things i’m not too concerned about the slight opening.

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The raw edge got finished with the bias tape I made earlier.

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And the skirt is done! Looking back I should have reinforced the waistband with interfacing, it has the tendency to sag and warp in certain places due to the skirts weight. That was a mistake on my part. But other than that I really like this skirt!

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Now for the overskirt! The overskirt is made up of an eighteen inch long, seventy two inch wide rectangle, and two slightly gored panels that are the same length. I had originally wanted to make this as a three quarter circle skirt, but fabric limitations prevented that!

This mesh doesn’t fray so I left it unhemmed. I cut it with a wavy pattern to make it look more…natural I guess, I wanted it to flow over the underskirt softly instead of ending in a harsh line.

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I sewed the panels together and gathered the top down to my waist measurement.

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I tried it on over the underskirt and there was something missing. I decided that thing was sparkle, so I stitched on a scattering of sequins across the lower half, focusing on the hem.

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Sparkles make everything better, and this skirt was no exception!

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(at this point the underskirt was unfinished)

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I folded the top eight inches of the back edge over and sewed them down, I did this for the underskirt too. It will be left open when I do up the back seam so I can get in and out of the skirt easily. This doesn’t matter if you have a smaller frame, but I have big hips and big shoulders so a six to eight inch slit at the waist is a necessity for all my skirts.

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…And that is all for this post! I thought there was more, but it makes more sense to include the information on attaching the skirt to the bodice in the blog post about the bodice. Which will hopefully be up next week! This project is complete I just need to get around to editing the videos about it.

Here is the finished ensemble, as a bit of a teaser picture!

Dress WatermarkThanks for reading!