It's All About The Dresses! | Even if its just sew-sew.

Web Name: It's All About The Dresses! | Even if its just sew-sew.






Blacksmithing in an 1890s Wool DressThis past January, I attended the joint ALHFAM/TLHA conference in Grapevine, Texas.  The conference was primarily a skills and trades exposition, with classes and workshops on various historical skills.  Among the other things there including teaching a few classes myself I took an all-day blacksmithing class.While it may seem odd to many people on the outside of this organization, it is a tradition to take historic trades classes in historical work wear.  Usually the men are the ones who follow this tradition the most, but some women do.  I decided that this year I wanted to be one of those women.  I chose the blacksmithing class because my husband, Philip, is a blacksmith, and there are times he wants or needs my help in the forge, while I have no idea what I m doing.  At the same time, I felt that having Philip try to teach me would end badly.Last fall, while my friend Marna was researching aprons, she found a reference to a lady blacksmith in an 1879 newspaper.  She shared it with me at the time, and it planted a seed about a wool dress.Newspaper, 1879So, once I decided to take the blacksmithing class, it remained to make the dress in preparation.  I decided to make an early 1890s dress rather than one from the 1870s, as I mostly work in 1890s Railroad Town at Stuhr.  Marna, of course, had a fantastic wool work dress in her personal collection, and sent me a picture to help with inspiration.1880s Wool Work DressWith this very basic style in mind, I made a plan.  I was fortunate enough to find black wool denim on Fashion Fabrics for only $5 a yard, which is insanely cheap.  I ordered enough in to make a pair of pants, vest, and jacket for Philip, and a dress for myself.  When it arrived, it was VERY heavy.  The 8 yard length weighed about 9 pounds.  Well, then.  I determined that I would need about 3 yards total for the dress, so that s a little over 3 pounds.  Plus lining.I drafted my basic pattern from my slopers, lengthening the shoulders just a smidge to an earlier sleeve to suit the early 1890 s and the less full sleeve I planned to use.  The bodice has the standard pieces of a late Victorian bodice, with back, side back, side, and front pieces (with two darts).  The sleeves are a slim two piece sleeve, with the outer piece lengthened right at the elbow and then gathered in, to give more range of motion while working.  I used a short standing collar, rather than a roll collar, which would be bulky and not work well with the heavy wool.  The bodice is lined with heavy unbleached linen, and the sleeves with a lighter weight dark brown linen.  (It reminded me of the old dark polished cotton.)1890s Wool Work Dress BodiceThe next step was the skirt.  I had decided early on to use one and a half breadths of the 60 wide wool to make the skirt, and to pleat it in with a dog-leg closure.  I trimmed it down a bit shorter in front at the top edge to allow for the skirt to hang more level over my hips and petticoats in back.  (Much more common to deal with the length at the top edge of a skirt than the bottom at the time.  Makes hemming and facing easier.)Of course, I ended up with a lot more pleats in back than front, which gives it just a bit of a folk clothing vibe.  Practical clothing for practical people.  I also put a really nice large pocket in the right side seam of the skirt.  I faced the hem with 4-inch wide black bias cut cotton twill, which is my go-to for hems and facings.  The buttonholes are hand-sewn with black silk buttonhole twist, and the buttons are antique black china buttons.  I also finished the armscye seam, once trimmed down, with a blanket stitch of the black buttonhole twist.1890s Wool Work Dress I am young and full of hope.The conference arrived, and the morning of the blacksmithing workshop was the first time I had actually tried this dress on fully.  I knew it would fit, since I had used my slopers, but there was some faith involved.  And a buttonhook, since my buttonholes were still relatively tight!With the wool dress, I wore my batiste combination (because what if it s hot in the forge?), old corded work corset, my grey flannel petticoat (because it was cold that morning), a basic tucked poplin petticoat, and of course stockings and my old work boots.  I don t believe I ever buttoned the top button of the bodice.Blacksmithing is FUN.  I learned so much in that class, about types of steel, and how to build a coal fire in a forge, and how to work properly with a hammer.  I am fairly weak, so had a small light hammer, which made things take longer than they should have.Blacksmith Like A Girl!We worked on making a hot chisel and a snowball hammer.  A snowball hammer is used to knock snow off horse hooves in winter, and has a pick end.  I did not finish mine, and will need to finish it with Philip s help.Strike While the Iron is Hot!Hit it Like You Live! Just a Few More Heats As for smithing in this dress, I didn t feel constrained or hampered by this dress at all.  It was comfortable, easy to move in, not too hot, and felt very protective.  It was cold in the forge, so I was glad of my flannel petticoat, and wished I had worn my wool stockings rather than cotton, because my toes were cold by the end of the day!  The type of wool in this dress, being a smooth dense wool, is not very insulating, so my dress was not very warm.  As I tired by the end of the day, I was very glad for the support of my corset.  The worst was the squeezing on my head from my safety glasses, which gave me a bit of a headache.I also got really sooty, of course, and I did scorch a hole in my skirt.  Oh well, nice patches are very historical, so eventually I ll get around to mending it.  Luckily, since it is wool, I didn t go up in flames!Most of the photos in this post are taken by Derrick Birdsall, who was my forge and anvil buddy.  Many thanks to him, and to my excellent teacher, Kelly Kring.Now, I just need it to warm up a bit here so I can get to work finishing my hammer in Philip s forge!  As always, feel free to post your comments and questions below!I currently have a fascination with 1890s work wear. Last summer, while working at Stuhr, I learned firsthand the benefit of loose cool clothing in the heat, and while blousey shirtwaists and neat skirts are not unpleasant, I have been wanting some wrappers for informal days spent in and around the house at Stuhr.Enter this fabric:Wrapper FabricI got a Joann Fabrics email in February, mentioning free shipping and new prints, half price. Now, usually their fabrics aren t that exciting for historical purposes I mostly get flannel with knitting sheep and things like that from them. But I looked to see what they had, and this jumped at me. It tackled me and screamed WRAPPER!!! So of course I had to order it.I d been wanting to find some trim such as was used on the readymade wrappers of Sears Roebuck and Montgomery Ward, and managed to find some antique trim on Etsy for pretty cheap. That was an awesome find!The next step was to decide what the wrapper, on the whole, should look like. I knew I wanted to copy another wrapper of Marna s, from The Domestic Lady s Dressmaker , but which one? She has several readymade wrappers in her collection from the 1890s, but I finally settled on one in particular, a black striped number from approximately 1898 with an interesting yoke. We are in 1898 this year at Stuhr, so it was perfect!The first thing I always do when making a historical garment off an original is to sketch it out. This helps me to get a feel for the seam lines, proportions, and other design features of the original. As I sketch, I write notes to the side of my sketch about details I see in the construction and finish, which help me think through how, exactly, I ll execute the pattern and sewing of this garment. You ll see I later changed a few of my opinions on the shape of the yoke.Sketch FirstThe next step was to draft the pattern. There are no photos of this process. I used my slopers, as usual. Then cut the fabric, and sew!There is one hard and fast rule about historical sewing: no matter what you are making, there will be a small piece you have to fiddle with and make before you can start with the big sweeping seams and get stuff done. This dress, that piece was the little back belt thing. Luckily, it was made with speed sewing techniques. Was it hemmed before applying trim? No! No such nonsense here! The raw edges were pressed 1/4 to the right side, and the trim was then machine stitched down to cover the raw edges. Slick.The subsequent seams were also sewn together in a beautiful time-saving way: you make a sandwich of the linings right sides together and the fabric right sides together and sew them all as one, then fold out and press. Raw edges are all enclosed! This should only, however, be done on loose fitting garments that won t need size adjustments.After I got the whole back together, I sewed the front fabric yoke. Since this wrapper is lined with a fitted lining down to the high hip, I sewed the Mother Hubbard front separately from the lining, then sewed it to the lining at the shoulder. I then sewed the shoulders together (with a flat felled seam felled on the outside!) and sewed the side seams. Pocket went into the right side seam, belt went in the sides, and wing ruffles went on the shoulders.What s wrong with my ruffle?!This was when I realized that my little standing ruffle was not level. So I fixed it. That was annoying.Next was to sew the buttonholes, then sew down the trim outlining the yoke, and to make and apply the collar and binding. It really started to come together at this point! The trim stitching holds the bottom of the yoke to the fitted lining, the Mother Hubbard front is loose below that.Back Yoke DetailLast was the sleeves, with their loose non opening cuffs and trim, and the skirt flounce with its little standing ruffle. The skirt itself is actually quite narrow above the flounce, about 84 including seam allowances. The flounce is three widths of 44 fabric, seamed together with a 2 hem. The sleeves are not very puffy, coming as they do at the very end of the 1890s. However, the shoulder ruffles really make up for the lack of actual sleeve puff!1898 Dress Front1898 Dress BackBefore the flounce, I also applied a patch pocket like on the original, edged with trim at the top. It should come in handy.Pockets for All!Another thing I d like to mention is that this wrapper buttons left over right. This is actually super common in the late Victorian era. Overlaps were not yet standardized for women s clothing, and were often left over right instead of right over left. I decided to make mine left over right, since the original did so.I haven t worn this dress at all yet, I m of course waiting for the summer season at Stuhr to start, but I ll likely first get to wear it sometime in May. Pictures then, I promise!Oh, and because this was my project for the March Historical Sew Monthly challenge, here are the details for that:Make something to wear around the (historical) house.What the item is: 1898 Readymade WrapperMaterial: Reproduction Cotton PrintPattern: Self drafted from an original.Year: 1898Notions: 6 China buttons, thread.How historically accurate is it? 90%. I actually got to historically use machine buttonholes! But I used poly blend thread throughout the dress.Hours to complete: 12?First worn: Not yet, this summer at Stuhr.Total cost: $45.Many years ago, I bought a book of plates from Harper s Bazaar.  If you re a costumer, you probably know the one, put out by Dover, big thick thing with a slightly weird shade of brown cover, full of designs from 1869 through 1899.  One in particular that caught my eye was this plate, from fall 1893:   Lady s Hunting Costume   I am a country girl, and grew up shooting and hunting, and this plate just enchanted me.  Here was a very proper lady all dressed in the proper costume for hunting,and she s got her own shotgun, AND a shotgun shell belt!  She s not some flighty lady who only sits inside and drinks tea, she goes out and has fun in the great outdoors!So I dreamed about this ensemble for years.  In 2012 I posted this picture on Facebook, saying I hoped to make it soon.  I finally bought the wool in spring of 2016, but stalled.  It had to be perfect, and I didn t feel my tailoring was up to snuff yet.  Finally, this year, my husband told me to just make it for the State Make it with Wool contest.  So now I had a deadline, two months out.Leor Helped Warm up my WoolI dug out my wool, pulled down my slopers, and started drafting.For the skirt, I simply cut off my favorite skirt pattern at a length that would just hit the top of my calves when finished, and took just a little bit of fullness out of the center back.I omitted my standard haircloth interlining, and simply lined the skirt with sateen (so as not to bind on the wool knickers), and faced the hem with a deep twill cotton facing.  I decided to machine stitch the hem, as this needs to be a durable skirt rather than fancy, and machine stitched hems were surprisingly common in the 1890 s.This is where I discovered the need for a walking foot.  I did not own a walking foot.  Had my fabric been a herringbone tweed rather than a plaid, it probably would have been fine, but there was a definite jog in the hem right at the three rows of topstitching.  So I ordered in a walking foot, and tore out the hem and redid it.  So much better!Walking Foot in Use, TopstitchingThe moral of this story is that walking feet are the most awesome thing, and you all need one too.  I used it for almost the whole rest of this ensemble.The bodice was pretty easy and straight forward to draft, and not too terribly difficult to put together.  I used my skirt pattern again for the peplum, and lined up the front left bodice overlay with the edge of the front panel.  It worked amazingly well that way.  The left bodice and right lining button together at center front, and take most of the strain of the  closure, while the overlay on the left side is an extension of the right bodice and just hooks over at the waist and shoulder.I used a sleeve lining from a shirtwaist to make the actual sleeves (just the right shape), and fussed around with my standup collar pattern to make the opening at the right place.I moved the pocket from the right breast to the right hip, because a pocket on your chest right where you will shoulder your gun is an exceedingly bad idea, but pockets are always awesome.  (I also have a hidden large pocket in the skirt, right between right side and right back.  Pockets!)I bound all the edges of the bodice, peplum, and the inside of the collar with bias made from the plaid.  Because I am insane, I pattern matched it.  It was also mostly cut from scraps, because why cut bias out of good large pieces you could use for something else when you have scraps?So then, pants. Knickers. Jodpurs.My wonderful friend Marna of The Domestic Lady s Dressmaker helped me with the pants, sending me instructions for drafting my own to size from Edwardian Ladies Tailoring: The Twentieth Century System of Ladies Garment Cutting (1910), by J C Hopkins.  (I know it is from the 1910 s, but it was that or basically a drawers pattern with the crotch sewn shut, which would not be that fantastic for actually doing daring things in, and I have also seen riding pants patterns for women similar from the 90 s.)So that all turned my brain inside out.  All the points in the draft seemed to be pretty arbitrarily named, A, B, 1, 4, etc., BUT.  The first and only mockup fit really well!Tada! Mockup Accomplished.So the pants went together well, with a regular placket and waistband like a skirt. I made them of the same wool as the rest of the ensemble.The last step was the leggings, or spats, or gaiters, however you want to call them.  My husband had promised to help me with this project, so . heeheehee.Duct Tape Fixes Everything!See, the gaiters have to fit over the pants at the top, but they have to fit snugly to the legs, so the best way to accomplish making a pattern is to put on your shoes, stockings, and pants, slip on a trash bag, and tape up your leg!  This is easier if your husband is willing to tape you up.  I drew a line for the center front seam, and very very very carefully cut myself out.  I was then able to cut apart the taped pieces into my pattern pieces, and trace and add seam allowances.Then it was an entire evening of buttonholes, and another entire evening of buttons to finish!  The next morning was Nebraska Make it With Wool!This is my friend Alyssa.  During the same time as I was making this hunting suit, she was working on this lovely ensemble, which is a different color copy of a suit in the Platte County Museum in Columbus.  She learned how to draft her own patterns and use a lot of Victorian sewing techniques in making this dress, and I am very proud of her.  She won the senior division of the Make it With Wool Contest.I styled my hunting suit as a hiking suit for the competition, because my cartridge belt wasn t done yet (I had an awesome guy in a local leather shop make one for me.), and carried a walking stick.  My hat came to me as a ratty old thing, but I cleaned it, steamed it into shape again, and put new feathers on as the old ones were completely falling apart.  I used two pheasant feathers given me by my friend Lisa. Really, this would make an awesome Victorian hiking costume as well.  I earned first in the adult division at Make it With Wool!Of course no historical ensemble is complete without a quality photoshoot.  (Also I need proper photos to send to nationals.)  So, yesterday, my husband and I went out to do just that.  My friend Ross lent me his absolutely amazing 1877 English Pape 16 gauge side by side shotgun.  It is fully engraved, with Damascus barrels.  I really don t know if I ve ever held a more beautiful gun.  He also lent me a pheasant rooster he shot on Thanksgiving day with that very gun, (and promptly froze), to use as a prop.  My dad tagged along for the photoshoot as well, to help carry things.I never felt restrained by this ensemble as well.  I was able to move just as comfortably as in a t-shirt and jeans.  Actually, I have greater range of motion in these pants than in my favorite pair of jeans, and a well-fitted sleeve is a joy to wear. I would like to see every woman know how to handle guns as naturally as they know how to handle babies. Annie OakleyWe took some hiking photos as well, for some variety.I will close by saying that this is probably my favorite ensemble to date (of course, I say that almost every time I finish something), and this ensemble has really shown me how no seamstress stands alone.  From Marna, who helped me with resources for the knicker pants pattern and taught me how to draft my own patterns; my mom who encouraged me and went with me on several Hobby Lobby trips for thread, fabric, and buttons, and also last year told me about the garage sale where I found the hat (and the 1840 s dress!); my husband who put up with my sewing mess, taped up my gaiters pattern, made my walking stick and also came with me to Make it With Wool even though I know he would be bored and gave him a free pass to skip out; to the Leather Shack in Central City for the awesome belt; Lisa who gave me pheasant feathers; Ross who lent me a beautiful historical gun for the photoshoot; my dad who tagged along and lugged things out into the back pasture for photos, and all my friends who encourage me whenever I embark on crazy sewing adventures.  For all your love and support, I am eternally thankful.  None of my endeavors would be possible without all of you. God intended women to be outside as well as men, and they do not know what they are missing when they stay cooped up in the house. Annie OakleyShare this:FacebookTwitterPinterestRedditTumblrEmailPrintLike this:Like Loading... Published in: 1890's Costumes Historical Victorian on November 27, 2017 at 5:10 pm Comments (2) Tags: costume, Costumes, gaiters, historic, hunting, knickers, suit, Victorian, woolWhat a week!  I am mostly recovered now, and my thoughts on the week are more or less settled.  It was a lovely time, with lovely people in lovely clothes at a lovely location.  Short version, the end.Long version:This was my first year teaching.  How crazy and insane is that?  This was also the first year with all-day Thursday workshops, and I ended up being one of the first teachers for the first Thursday workshops.  Yikes!I taught Understructures of the Victorian Skirt as a workshop on Thursday to four students.  We got a good start on our skirts, with everyone at least getting their panels all flatlined and interlined.Laying out FabricSo that was all day Thursday.  In the evening, there was the pool party.  It was Disney themed, but I didn t feel like making anything new, so I wore my Birka Viking clothes, because Vikings Lords of the Sea Water Pool Party!I m a pretty Viking Princess!At the pool party, I met this really fantastic group of ladies, who also did not follow the Disney theme.Vintage Star Trek!These girls are all my heroes forever.Friday, it was hit the ground running for classes and classes!First up, was my lecture on Victorian Knitting.  I think it was overall well received.  I really like knitwear, so this was a good time for me to share my love of wool!Victorian KnittingThere is a disturbing lack of knitwear in this photo, but trust me, I brought such as I have so far and would fit in my suitcase.  (Photo taken by my friend Kristina, who I finally met in person at CoCo!)After the Knitwear class, I had a quick lunch, and ran off to my Nålbinding class.  As usual, all my students were brilliant and were able to pick it up.  I m always very pleased with my nålbinding students.With no time for a proper supper, it was time for the Friday night social!  (I ate something, I just can t remember what.)The theme was Our Favorite Spies .  It was so much fun to see all the spies from pop culture and history in the great hall, as well as the other characters, historical, non-historical, and more.I wore my soutache walking suit, which still doesn t have a blog post of its own.  I ve mostly been gleaning photos that other people took of it from Costume College also, because I didn t take a lot of photos, and the lighting wasn t awesome in the public photo space.Soutache!I will never not love the back of this bodice.I really kindof wish now I had made it into Shotwell booth to get a professional photo taken, not that that would help me for the blog here and now  Oh well.Saturday, I didn t dress up!  For real.  I decided that for my whirlwind schedule, it would be better to be comfy and easily able to maneuver through groups of other people.First up, I had a wonderful Victorian purse class with Lynn McMasters.  I made an acceptable purse in the end. However, as all good projects will do, it taught me more about what not to do and what to do differently than I got right the first go.Purse!After my purse class I had approximately 15 minutes to run to teach my lecture on the Understructures of Victorian Skirts.  It was really well received.  I am so happy that I was able to demystify aspects of the Victorian skirt making process and the supports built in for so many people.  I may do a blog post sometime in the future.I then went to my velvet millinery leaf class with Lynn McMasters (again!).  She is such a delightful and knowledgeable lady.  I made three serviceable leaves, and got to take home a silicone stamp for making more.  Now I ll have to watch for the remnant sale on Silk Baron to get more velvet for more leaves!Velvet Leaves!Then it was time to get ready for the Gala!This dress will get its own blog post soon enough, I hope.  It s my favorite thing I ve made to date.  Raspberry silk taffeta, lined with black cotton sateen, trimmed with black silk net, antique silk lace, and antique jet beaded motifs.  I felt incredibly regal wearing it.1893 Raspberry Silk Evening Gown1893 Raspberry Silk Evening Gown BackThere were so many other awesome dresses at the Gala.  Here are just a few of my favorites:Pinks!(Taylor and I both had pink dresses inspired by Worth gowns.  PINK!)Rebecca s Gorgeous Blue GownStripey GoodnessI was seriously impressed with the stripe placement and fit of this gown, made by Jessica.Lovely 1830 sI wish I knew who this delightful young lady is.  She really knew her stuff, and did a wonderful job on her 1830 s gown.  Her buckle is antique!The Fluffy Skirt GangFlemish?I always really like seeing well done clothing from the lower classes of history.  It wasn t all glitz and jewels, it was actually mostly sturdy wools and linens, in case we ve forgotten.  But that didn t mean people were sloppy or ill-dressed either.Gorgeous 60 s GownSo I ve never liked the fashion of the 60 s.  Never, until Costume College this year.  There was so much of it so well done, that I was warming to it.  When I saw this dress though, worn so well by the other Kelsey, it completely won me over.  It s kinda like you see random abandoned bits of 60 s furniture in your grandparents basements, and think ugh, how could anyone like this?  Then you see a room done well all in 60 s and suddenly, you understand why it was a thing.  Kelsey showed me exactly how and why 60 s fashion was a thing.Roomies!Sunday was a lazy day for me.  I went to only two classes, one on Byzantine Clothing, and one on kilts.  I did dress up, but in stuff I wear all the time at Stuhr.  As such, it s comfortable for me to wear, and actually only took 10 minutes to dress in.1890 s Waist and Skirt1890 s Waist and SkirtMonday, before I went to the airport, was fabric district day!Home Fabrics, Land of SilkFirst stop was Home Fabrics.  It s a wonderland.  I restrained myself pretty well, considering most of the silk on the second floor was only $6 a yard.  I got enough blue plaid for another silk shirtwaist, and some pink stripe and green stripe for a couple of Gibson Girl style vests for myself and a friend.  (She gets the pink!)The second stop was a trim store.  I was looking for some specific trim for a 90 s wrapper, but they didn t really have it.  They had some that looked similar, but it was pretty plasticy.  Maybe I ll just have to be insane and weave some.Trims Galore!The final stop was B. Black and Sons.  They have been one of my favorite places to order from online for years I used to order whole bolts of wool flannel when I was doing Viking orders.  It was a magical kingdom of wool, wool, and more wool.  I really love wool.  I didn t buy any wool though, because I might have a glut of it at home.  Just maybe.B. Black and SonsFun fact: B. Black and Sons was founded the same year my house was built.  Also, all those movie posters are movies and shows they have provided wool for.  (I told them they need to find a poster for The Originals.)Then it was time to go to the airport and fly home.  Travel went well, everything arrived mostly undamaged at the airport in Omaha, and I flopped into bed incredibly late.  (I m always very afraid of my luggage not arriving.)Costume College HaulI got a nice little variety of items to bring home.  The fashion plates were a steal, actually I got them two for one at the very end of the day in the Costume College Marketplace.I hope you enjoyed all my pictures and tales of my shenanigans!  Until the next time I m actually able to put down the sewing and write!Share this:FacebookTwitterPinterestRedditTumblrEmailPrintLike this:Like Loading... Published in: 1890's Costumes Historical Victorian on August 9, 2017 at 12:00 pm Leave a Comment Tags: coco, costume, costume college, Costumes, fuschia, historic, VictorianThis summer, I was very happily minding the shop one day, when my mom told me she had been at a garage sale that morning, and they had some antique underwear and hats there.  As I collect antique underwear, I didn t want to miss out, so as soon as I closed the shop, I picked her up, and off we went!We started out the sale by inspecting and acquiring a very large box of vintage hats, mostly from the 50 s and 60 s.  In the garage, I found an excellent bearskin muff and a white silk turn of the century graduation style dress.  There were a few antique nightgowns on the rack, but nothing that special.  About then, the lady asked if I liked old clothes, and told me she had more inside.  Oooooooooh.The moment I stepped into the room, I saw it.  Hanging on the wall in unassuming plainness, but undeniable.  I didn t want to act too excited there, so I added it to my pile, and got a box of antique underwear, and a black lace dress from about 1907, and a few other random things from the room.  I left shirtwaists and camisoles, and it was sad, but I had limited funds.But this.  This was worth it.  I now have a front opening fan-front 1840 s dress.1840 s Front Opening Fan-Front DressThere are not many of these around.  I couldn t find any on pinterest, and found only a few on a google search.  I found this purple silk one in a google search, and that s about it.  I suspect that is because a fan front style is easier to sew with a single piece than with an opening right down the middle of it.The dress is sewn of lightweight black wool, with a fan front and front opening, and a smaller fan in back.  It is somewhat smaller than my dress form, as you can see.1840 s Wool Dress BackBack of 1840 s Dress FlatFront of 1840 s Dress FlatThe front opening closes with hooks and eyes.  It s really neat and tidy, and if everything is hooked up, you can barely see the closure.  The edges just butt right up to each other.1840 s Dress ClosureThe hooks on the bodice are sewn in between the layers, except for one that apparently ripped out at some point and was sewn back on.  Ooops!Bodice HooksPocket!There is a pocket sewn into the right skirt front, right at the edge of the narrow front panel.  It s faced with dress fabric, but the pocket itself is made of cotton.  (Top of the pocket is at the right in the above picture.)  The picture below shows the inside of the skirt, with the pocket.  As you can see, the front panel of the skirt was pieced, right at the top!  Meanwhile, the top edge of the skirt is overcast and folded over before being pleated and set to a cotton waistband/ binding.Pocket on Inside, Plus PiecingThe skirt is sewn straight across the waistline of this dress, and the waist seam ends a little past the front of the side seam.  It appears that the waist would have hooked straight across on a waistband, then the bodice closed over.  You can see the piecing in the front panel here.Front Skirt Panel of 1840 s DressBack of WaistbandThe skirt pleats are very even, and yes, those are boning channels above!1840 s Skirt FacingThe skirt has a very deep facing of polished cotton, and there is horsehair braid sandwiched between the facing and the skirt fabric, extending about 1/8 , to prevent wear to the hem.  There is a tuck about 1 deep above the facing, which accounts for the stitching line you see in the above photo.  Most of the skirt seams are very narrow, with selvedge sewn to selvedge, except for this one, which is the narrow front panel seam.  Its one cut edge is whip stitched to prevent fraying.Inside Back of 1840 s Dress BodiceThe lining is made of a heavy rough linen.  Heavy fabrics were often used as linings to support the bodice and prevent warping or stretching.  The back lining has pieces carefully patched in right at the shoulder.  Apparently, her piece of fabric wasn t quite large enough in the right ways.  The shoulder seam is very neatly whip stitched to finish the edge.Pieced Back LiningFront Boning Channel with BaleenYep!  One of the original baleen stays!  You ll notice there are diagonal lines sewn with a running stitch through the lining in both the front and back.  This prevents the fan front (and back) from collapsing outward and looking slouchy or untidy.  Even after all these years, the dress is well-shaped, thanks to the careful thought that went into constructing it.Basically Shoulder PleatsThe diagonal stitching lines are down under the diagonal lines in the bodice, essentially creating diagonal pleats in the bodice.  The running stitches hold it in place, and are hidden completely on the outside of the dress.Diagonal Stitching LineOur original seamstress didn t care how nice her stitches were if no one else could see them!The Stitching from the OutsideLet s take a moment to admire her piping, however.  See how tiny and neat it is?Lovely 1840 s Piping!For the collar, there is piping, horsehair braid, AND a tiny silk ruffle.  The tiny plain ruffle makes my friend Kay think this is a mourning dress, but I m still undecided.  I tend to think this was simply a best dress, with a little bit of fancy trim around the collar.1840 s Collar Treatments Galore!Front Collar TreatmentIn the front of the collar, the lining snakes its way out of the piping binding, and becomes the faced front hook and eye closure, while the collar treatment continues on and becomes the front fashion fabric opening, with the hooks at the neck and down at the fan.  Very nice way of solving that problem!Now, let s talk sleeves:1840 s Dress SleeveThe sleeve is moderately full, but not so full that it is gathered or pleated into the armscye.  It is pleated neatly into a narrow cuff, and the front edge has fullness pleated into the elbow, to allow for freedom of movement.  As you can see, the sleeves are pieced, both exactly symmetrically.1840 s Sleeve CuffThe sleeve cuff has a narrow band of silk velvet ribbon sewn on as trim, with a hook and thread eye closing each sleeve.  The velvet is worn threadbare, enough so one can see it was simply tacked on with a double running stitch, with the threads hidden in the pile of the velvet originally.1840 s Sleeve Cuff and LiningThe sleeve lining is pieced, and has some shattering up by the elbow.  My guess is that the fabric wore thin there from movement.1840 s Dress ArmscyeThe armscye is trimmed close and whip stitched all around.  I think the cord up there is made of linen, but I m not entirely sure of its purpose.  Perhaps it had something to do with hanging the dress when not worn.Front of 1840 s Dress FlatI m still ridiculously pleased with this piece of history, and it is on my reproduction list, as soon as I have time.  I m sure I will learn even more about how it was made when I begin the process of reproducing it.  In the meantime, it is safely packed away in an archival box, away from sunlight and bugs.  (It is no longer hanging on a wire hanger in an old house.)Thanks for reading, and as always, I m very happy to answer questions!Share this:FacebookTwitterPinterestRedditTumblrEmailPrintLike this:Like Loading... Published in: 1840's 1840's Costumes Historical Original Clothing on April 4, 2017 at 8:24 pm Comments (5) Tags: 1840's, dress, historical, original, victorian dressesYou can t just wear a prairie dress in town on the 1890 s frontier!  So I made a dress to wear in town, or at least in one of the houses in town.I originally had the idea that I would make a work dress.  A plain, no-frills work dress that someone might wear to do housework, cook, and clean.  I  bought a piece of appropriately historic calico at, of all places, Walmart and it was a vermiculated pink floral!  So I had to work with it, and make whatever dress design I came up with from that!Patterns and FabricI ve put off finishing this post for a very long time.  Mainly, because I don t love the finished dress.  I finished it in early June for 2015, and could never quite write this post.  Partially, I was really busy that summer, painting our house.  Partially, I wasn t very pleased with the finished dress.  Oh, it fits, and it looks nice, and I enjoy wearing it, but I have never had a dress fight me the way this one did before.  Every step of construction, I had to fix things, change things, or I made really stupid mistakes.First off, I put off learning how to draft my own historical slopers (pattern bases made to your measurements) in favor of the Past Patterns Day Dress Pattern shown above.  While I usually love Past Patterns, I must say I do not recommend this pattern.  I do not.  There is a lot wrong with it, in terms of seams, and I had to change a lot.Then, I looked and looked and couldn t find a single original one-piece day dress with a point in the center front waist.  So that had to be whacked off straight.  Then the darts were not in the right place.  Also, the armscyes were weird (never fixed that, because I didn t realize just how weird they were until the sleeves were on), and the neckline was too high in front and too low in back.  (So now after finishing the dress, I had to recut the neckline in front and make a new collar, and isn t that just a fantastic thing to have to do?)  Then, the skirt should not be a gathered skirt in the 1890 s (or really in the 1880 s either), so I had to draft my own gored skirt to use instead.  It really looks lovely on the envelope, but it s a bad choice.That was basically the cutting out bit.  When I was sewing it together, pieces didn t match quite right, and then I put my back skirt panels in wrong, and wondered why I had so much extra fabric and cut the excess off.  Oooops.  I didn t have enough to cut two more back panels out, so I had to piece things in at the top of the back panels, hoping most of the piecing would be hidden by the pleats.  Le sigh.  I did put in a dog-leg closure for the skirt, and it lays very nicely, and the hem has a facing of the same fabric as the dress.  I didn t have any cotton in an acceptable print for a contrast facing, as was most common.But, I persevered and got it done, and I ve worn it at Stuhr Museum quite a few times!  (And it has two huge pockets right under the back skirt panels, so at least that is a win!)In the Milisen House at Stuhr MuseumBetter Photo, at Costume CollegeBack of 1890 s DressI should note that I actually hand-sewed all of the buttonholes on the bodice.  In one evening.  I feel so accomplished still.So there s my 1890 s Day Dress.  Very simple looking, very horrible to put together, but very fun to wear, at least now I ve fixed the collar.As usual, questions are welcome!Share this:FacebookTwitterPinterestRedditTumblrEmailPrintLike this:Like Loading... Published in: 1890's Costumes Historical Victorian on October 1, 2016 at 7:21 pm Comments (6) Tags: 1890's, calico, cotton, dress, everyday, Victorian, work1899 Cooking Apron from Ageless PatternsLast Christmas time, Kay at Stuhr Museum lent me this apron pattern.  I had just made a white apron from the National Garment cutter, and she thought I should make another apron for wear at Stuhr.Who doesn t need another apron?  Really.  Aprons are pretty necessary when you re in the past.So I held onto it for a while, waiting for the right fabric to show up, because cambric, much less figured cambric, isn t really available anymore.  Around January, I bought some Civil War print calico from my friend Christine, and she included a two yard piece of some fantastic dark blue and white print that would be appropriate for the 1890 s.  I didn t even think of putting the two together until late March.  Silly me.  As you can see, the description of the original apron says Figured Cambric with a Navy Blue Ground is the material of which this apron is made.  The edges are piped with Red Once I finally decided the fabric should become the apron, I had a bit of a problem.  The pattern calls for 3 1/2 yards of 32 wide fabric, and I had two yards of 45 .  I decided the only way to make it work was to cut it on the cross grain, which is not recommended.  (That makes the garment less likely to wear well.)  But I did it.  And, it ended up about 6 shorter than I would have liked.  I had to cut the flounce for the bottom mostly in extremely short sections, but I got it all!This is all the fabric that was left.So, the front of the bib has a little section that is piped, which also makes the front a bit stiffer.  I learned that one should wait until you attach the shoulder straps to pipe the top edge.Piped Front SectionThe pattern calls for this bit to be embroidered as well, but I decided this was really enough.The rest of the apron went together fairly smoothly, but I ll mention a few key bits:Like most patterns from Ageless Patterns, there isn t a lot of instructions. There s just one size, not specified, which seems to be about mine. (34 bust, 26 waist. ) I made my apron shorter than I would have liked, due to fabric restrictions.The amount of piping required is not specified either. I think I used about 8-9 yards, which is a lot. I had to make more several times because I kept underestimating how much I really needed.The pattern pieces go together well, but judging by how they do, I think you could take off the 5/8 seam allowance and sew the pieces together with a 1/2 seam allowance and be fine. Coincidentally, this makes the pieces fit within the original specification for fabric width. (32 ).The front panel of the apron is gathered.  This is achieved by sewing a casing on the inside with two channels, and running tapes through and tying them at each end.  This makes the front very adjustable, so this apron might be a good bet for maternity or for wear by different people IF you also add extra buttonholes to the belt.  My belt is maxed out.  I gave it a buttonhole, but mostly because I was supposed to.Gathers on InsideFront of Belt. I really like little china buttons.I used little china buttons with pie crust edges for my apron, because I like them, and a while back I got a pile of them for cheap on Etsy.  I need to look for some a little large though, for aprons and such.The side seam, which you should align with the side middle of the belt, is the seam where the back panels of the skirt attach to the rest of the apron.  NOT the vertical darts which appear to be side seams on the main front piece.  If you sew the apron with the dart aligned as side seam, the whole thing pulls funny around the hips.  I had to take it apart and redo.The whole apron from the front, before buttons. Fun little gathered pocket!This was figuring out the straps before doing buttonholes and buttons.Lots of china buttons.Overall, this is a good apron pattern, even if all the piping is a bit fussy.  8/10, would make again.  (But would probably make the yet-unreviewed Garment Cutter apron first it gets a 9.)Thanks for reading, and as always, let me know if you have any questions!Share this:FacebookTwitterPinterestRedditTumblrEmailPrintLike this:Like Loading... Published in: 1890's Costumes Historical Victorian on April 23, 2016 at 12:58 pm Comments (2) Tags: 1880's, 1890's, apron, Costumes, historic, historical, sewing, VictorianSome time ago, I was asked to help at Rock Creek Station for the Oregon Trail Day that is put on for 4th graders studying Nebraska History.  Rock Creek Station is a place where there was a bridge over a river for travelers on the Oregon trail, was a Pony Express Station for a time, a stage coach station for a while, and of course, where Wild Bill Hickok killed his first man.I did not have a dress both appropriate to the era of the Oregon Trail and suitable for working outside demonstrating spinning and weaving, so I decided to make one.  (Both of the dresses I have appropriate for the range of years the Oregon Trail was in use are fancy.)  My friend Marna very kindly drafted a pattern for me off an original dress she had, and I proceeded to scale it up to my size (the original wearer was very short maybe 4 8 ), and adjust it to fit.  I also ordered in a dark calico with a bright paisley pattern appropriate to the 1860 s.  I decided to go with a more 1860 s aesthetic over all, rather than 1870 s, so I would be able to wear it at Stuhr Museum in the 1860 s cabin as well.Basically, I sewed it with Victorian speed sewing techniques which you ll have to take my word for, because I didn t really take pictures as I went.  The neck, sleeves, and cuffs are piped, and the cuffs are sewn in such a way that the facing flips to the outside, finishing the edge and making a decorative band all at once.  The flounce on the skirt is sewn with a bias band on the outside, machine stitched down, finishing the seam and creating reinforcement all at once.  The hem is machine done pretty much everything but the neckline facing and hooks and eyes are done by machine.  This is how the original was done as soon as our ancestors had sewing machines, they used them as much as they could!The CollarOh yeah I made a bonnet too.  It s appropriately historically awful, but a real wonderful thing to have on your head in the sun.  Verdict: these may look rather horrible, but they need to come back.  This one is corded in bands, and then starched within an inch of its life.  Starch is an absolute must.The Ugly BonnetI didn t get many pictures when I was at Rock Creek Station back in September, but I did go out with my husband later and get some really good photos at the park.All Ready for WorkBut I m Reading Tennyson InsteadI wore my sontag too, for pictures, and a plain pleated apron.  The apron has a good deal of grime already worn into the bottom of the hem.I picked Tennyson s Poems to carry as a prop because I read a book in high school about a pioneer girl in Nebraska, and she memorized a poem by Tennyson The Eagle .  It seemed appropriate.Oh, Tennyson. . .I m reading about Lady Claire, I think.A Good Close Shot to Show the PleatsRelaxing in the LeavesSide ViewBack ViewThis is where I pause to enumerate my historical undies, because almost none of them are correct for this time, but I made it work.  1860 s Chemise and Drawers, 1890 s Corded Corset, 1840 s Bustle Pad, 1840 s starched petticoats.  I really long for a small hoop, after my day at Rock Creek.The Park is Alive, With the Sound of Music!Running Through the GreenwoodMy dear husband had me running and running all over to get a good shot of me running.  I usually look ridiculous when I run.  I am just not a runner.  But I like this shot.  It shows how much mobility you do have in a corset and long skirt.It just so happened that this fit into the Heirlooms and Heritage Challenge for The Historical Sew Monthly, so here are the details!What the item is: Late 1860 s Work DressThe Challenge: Heirlooms and HeritagePattern: Drafted off an original in the collection of Marna Davis, greatly enlarged because the original was for a tiny lady.Year: 1868-ish.Fabric: 7 yards of cotton calico.Notions: Thread, hooks and eyes.How historically accurate is it? I did everything the way the original was made. This is probably 95%, accounting for fabric made in a modern way.Hours to complete: 20First worn: For an Oregon Trail day at Rock Creek Station, doing spinning and weaving demos for fourth graders.Total cost: $36 for fabric, $5 for hooks and eyes. $41 total.This is a heritage piece because Rock Creek Station and the Oregon Trail are a big part of my state s (Nebraska) history. Also, my dad s ancestors came to Nebraska in the 1850 s, so it is possible one of them might have worn such a dress.And for the bonnet, which fit under the Brown Challenge:What the item is: Corded BonnetThe Challenge: BrownFabric: 100% cotton fabric, 1 yardPattern: The Godey s 1850 s corded bonnet pattern, plus tips from the Sewing Academy and my own alterations from pictures of originals of the 1860 s.Year: 1860 sNotions: Thread, twill tape, starch.How historically accurate is it? 85% I don t know. It s the right shape, but the fabric is a little iffy. But it was $3 a yard at Walmart so. . .Hours to complete: Five. There is lots of cording. Then it took 7 hours to dry after starching.First worn: For an Oregon Trail day at Rock Creek Station, at which I taught fourth graders about spinning and weaving.Total cost: $6, if I bought it all for project. Some was stash.Running Towards the CameraThanks for reading, and as always, let me know if you have any questions!Share this:FacebookTwitterPinterestRedditTumblrEmailPrintLike this:Like Loading... Published in: 1860's Civil War Costumes Historical Knitting Uncategorized Victorian on March 7, 2016 at 11:19 pm Comments (2) Tags: 1860's, Civil War, clothing, Costumes, historical, sewing, Victorian, Work DressI am so far behind on blogging.  My husband and I closed on our house on May 7th, and we ve been painting ever since.  I just got back from Costume College, and while I promise I ll have a post on that soon, I feel like I need to wrap up my loose ends on my Historical Sew Monthly projects.  So without further ado, here is the Birka Viking Tunic I made for my husband!Birka Viking TunicAnd here are the Historical Sew Monthly Facts!What the item is (and how it is a product of war or a lengthy period of peace): A Viking Tunic and Undertunic from the Swedish Trading Island of Birka. The Viking Age is often regarded as an era of war and conflict, but in the eastern Viking world, it was a time of peace and trading. Viking Traders often travelled to Constantinople to trade furs for silks and other goods. Many varied items from many cultures have been found at Birka, including Chinese silk, a Bhuddha figure, Christian crosses, and a ring with an Arabic inscription.The Challenge: April: War and Peace.Fabric: Overtunic: 100% linen in a pink and green herringbone. Undertunic: 100% linen.Pattern: Widely accepted theorized Birka Tunic pattern, based on grave finds.Year: 900 s.Notions: Thread.How historically accurate is it? Well, it is dyed linen. There are some finds of dyed linen from the Viking Age, but linen doesn t survive well in graves. I know it is possible to get these colors on linen using Viking Age dyes, but it would be extremely expensive. As this is a tunic for a wealthy trader, I think that is acceptable. Really, I used the pink and green herringbone because WHO COULD PASS THAT UP? The cut is definitely right with what we know. About 70%.Hours to complete: I cut this out last fall. Really only about 5 though. It still needs trim but I m calling it wearable right now.First worn: For pictures.Total cost: $40? Ish? Can t recall what the herringbone cost but it was not terribly expensive.And here are a few other pictures.  I don t have any construction pictures of this one because I didn t think to take any.Side ViewHe Made that SeaxIsn t that a pretty seax?  He made it.  My husband is so talented!Birka PouchHe made that pouch too.  He s very artistic.So there you have it!  I just really love this fabric.  I have an apron dress made of the same fabric that I need to finish weaving trim for.  Hopefully I ll get that done before Hostfest this year.  I m currently working on some really complicated wool trim in pink and green for this tunic which should be done by then as well.Share this:FacebookTwitterPinterestRedditTumblrEmailPrintLike this:Like Loading... Published in: Costumes Historical Medieval-Type Viking on August 5, 2015 at 6:51 pm Comments (2) This year, as I have told you before, I am participating in the Historical Sew Monthly.  The challenge for March was Stashbusting , meaning you had to use ONLY items from your stash.  I took that to mean items which I have had for a year or more.  Right away, I knew what I wanted to make!Last year, I was at Hancock Fabrics getting some muslin or something, and as is my habit I was browsing the economy fabric section when a bolt of fabric caught my eye.  100% cotton in a charming print that just looked like it stepped out of the 1840 s, only $3 a yard regular price!  To make things even better, I had a coupon for 50% off any piece of fabric at regular price!  So I went home with 8 yards and only a vague idea of an 1840 s dress.I commenced to research, and after a long stint of gazing at original dresses on Pinterest and comparing them to original patterns, I bought the Laughing Moon 114 Mercantile Fan Front Dress pattern.  I had everything together and I had a plan!  Except then we moved, and life got really busy, and the fabric just sat on my shelf, and waited.Fabric and a PatternSo when I heard the challenge for March was Stashbusting , I knew I had to pull that fabric out and start that dressBut first I had to find that ONE dress that inspired me, that I wanted to take cues from and design features from to make the perfect dress,Original 1840 s DressThis dress, in a private collection and pictured on an auction site, fit the bill nicely.  I loved the opening at the front neck, and the little ruffles on the mancherons.  I was less a fan of the poofy lower sleeves though.  I absolutely LOVED the flat pleating for the fan front.  It just seemed more my speed than the frilly smocking at the front of many fan front dresses.So then I had a plan.  Now I just had to put it into effect.First, as all good seamstresses should, I made a mockup.  I traced and cut the pattern to the size suggested on the pattern envelope, only to find it was far too large in the waist.  This is why you always make a mock-up!  I was able to take in the darts on the final lining then, and properly fit the bodice to the lining.  I also boned the darts with spiral steel boning, because I feel it is closest to whalebone, having carefully felt the flex of the real thing on an antique once before.  (Cutting out the dress was only interesting in that I had to cut the right and left bias sleeves the opposite directions.)Fan Front in the MakingPleating the fan front was far easier than I thought it would be, and it went together nicely.  You can see the beginning of the partial front opening here too.Next step was to put the whole bodice together.  This involved far more piping then I ever thought it would.  I had to make more.  First time I ve ever had to make more piping.  My last two dresses with piping I had feet and feet left over.  (This time I piped the shoulder seams, the armscyes, the ends of the mancherons (short sleeves) above the ruffle, the long seam on the sleeves, the neckline, and the bottom edge.)Piping Bodice EdgeTo finish the seams, since the bodice fabric was applied to the lining and then sewn together, I sewed bias strips over the seams.  Not the fastest way to finish seams but definitely very neat!Finishing SeamsFinally, I had the bodice together, less sleeves.  Time for a fitting!Fitting SelfieYep.  Seems close!  (Actually, this picture is prior to the piping, it seems.  I tested the fit before and after, and after sleeves.)So then, sleeves.  First step was to make the mancherons.Mancherons!Let me take just a moment to talk about mancherons.  If you look up mancheron, you will see that it is either a sleeve used as a charge in French heraldry, or that it is an ornamental trimming on the upper part of a sleeve.  The latter definition more aptly applies here.  In the late 1830 s it was the style to either band down the great big poofiness at the tops of the puffed sleeves or to have a narrow upper sleeve connected to a poofy lower sleeve.  By the 1840 s this upper sleeve seems to have detached itself and become its own entity, known as the Mancheron.  Mancherons were a thing through much of the 1840 s, with many variations, though they were mostly (but not always) tight around the sleeve.  They were a place where one could add more lace or trim, and sometimes confined a more poofy lower sleeve.I decided to add a little ruffle and more piping to mine, like in the original dress that inspired me, but I decided against the zig-zag lower edge.  I lined my mancherons with white muslin to enclose the piping and ruffle edge, and everything looked nice!Now the actual sleeves.  I basted down the piping, and sewed my seams with the recommended seam allowance, and WOW!  They were way too big and just not flattering!  So I pinned them on my arm to get an idea for the tightness and took them way in, and WOW!  They were just too tight!  (I was doing this to just one sleeve.  Get one side right then copy onto the other side.)  So I let out the seam a measly 1/8 and they were just right.  (And Goldilocks smiled at the sleeves and decided to keep them for herself.)  Every adjustment on these sleeves meant ripping off the piping again too.  Of course all this adjusting meant that my sleeves were just that much smaller than the mancherons, so I basted them together, easing the mancherons to the sleeve.  Good thing they were cut on the bias!With my sleeves assembled, I sewed them into the strangely shaped armscyes of my bodice, using a zipper foot because of the piping.  It all went together smoothly, relatively.  Time for a fitting!  Well, I had to let out the back closure just a bit because sleeves change a lot of things, but it was all good!  So now, the skirt.First I sewed my skirt seams.Find the SeamI used mad pattern matching skills.  I had to take a very narrow seam on the edges of the fabric, as otherwise I would have lost quite a bit of the width of my fabric.  My skirt was three panels 60 inches wide, and either I would have had a lot of seam finishing, or I could make a careful narrow seam.  As the fabric had a very firm but not bulky woven selvedge, I went with a narrow seam.  It was barely 1/4 .  (In my defense, many original dresses have very narrow skirt seams as well.)I had been fussing a bit over how to do the pleats on the skirt. The top edge of the skirt was straight, and the pattern recommended pleating it and sewing it to the waistline of the dress.  But I wanted the pleats to fan out from the point of the bodice like in so many extant dresses.  Then, I saw a wonderful video from Historical Sewing (  in which Jennifer was explaining how she intended to get her cartridge-pleated skirt to follow the bottom edge of her 1840 s bodice. (I m not copying her, I swear!)  (You can find her video here: theater )  So, I followed Jennifer s lead and pressed down the top edge of my skirt for the cartridge pleats, pressing the top fold deeper at the front where the front point was.  I measured how deep the point was below the waist line and made my fold that much deeper in the center, but the width was an exercise in That looks about right .  I did have the points for the side seams marked into the skirt, so I was just right, actually.Stitching the Cartridge PleatsI ended up doing three rows of stitching for my cartridge pleats.  It took me about four evening to get them all done.Then came the fun part gathering up the pleats and attaching the skirt to the bodice!Stitching Pleats DownBefore I stitched the pleats down, I gathered them up, laid the skirt flat with the hem level, and held up the bodice to make sure the top edge was right it was perfect!  So I started sewing the pleats down, one at a time.  As you can see, I made my pleats quite small and close together.  I counted and I had about 25 per inch in the back half and 20 per inch in the front half.  I had the same amount of fullness in the skirt all around, but there was more distance for the same number of pleat in the front due to the slope of the bodice point.After stitching them down on the inside, I blind stitched every other pleat to the piping on the outside for a perfect effect.All Stitched DownThis section took me about 5 hours, from gathering to skirt all the way on.Now, I am a chicken, and I never hem skirts until I have them attached to my waistband because I am afraid I will make them the right length, so I measured and pressed the hem, using a different dress I knew was the right length and is worn over the same petticoats as a guide.  I laid them on the floor one on top of the other.  Simple but effective.  I opted to make this dress half an inch longer than the other dress.  At this point, it was Tuesday morning, and it was the final day of the Stashbusting challenge, so I had to hurry!  I sewed up the deep hem, sewed on hooks and made thread eyes, and finished the cuffs of the sleeves.  (They ended in little slits with hooks at the bottom so I can open them if needed and get my hand through when putting on the dress.)  As soon as my husband got home from work, I pressed the whole dress, got dressed, grabbed my handmade 1830 s-1840 s shoes and an old book for a prop, and we walked to the park to take photos!(Let me just say here that my dear husband, Philip Patton is a wonderful photographer, and all of the photos that follow are his work and copyrighted by him.)Perfect Hour of SunsetThis was the first photo we took.  Up to this point, I had not seen myself in the dress, as I had put on the undergarments upstairs and the dress downstairs, where there was no mirror.  I was very pleased to see a nearly perfect 1840 s bell-shape silhouette!BackSideI am wearing under this dress my 1830 s bloomers, my old 1840 s chemise from my first year of college (The 1830 s chemise has poofy sleeves which  won t fit under the tight sleeves of this dress.), my old Silverado Bust Gore Corset I made when I was 16 going on 17 (still fits, but then again that is after I stopped growing), my tucked petticoat with lace, my corded petticoat, and my flounced crinoline and organdy petticoat.  No corset cover.  The bodice doesn t really require one.Ankles!Also, my mustard stockings.  You can also see my handmade shoes in action here.So RomanticLooking at the BookSigh I Feel LovelyIt was the hardest thing to keep those little sections of hair over my ears.  I could hardly stand it.Golden LightBodice Front DetailPiping!Piping and Pleats!Reading the Psalm BookThis is a very sweet old Swedish Psalm Book I have, published in 1884.  (Yep, too late for this dress!)  It has in it the standard Scripture and Hymns for every Sunday of the year.  I just so happened to open it right up to the reading for Easter in this photo.Also, these are my favorite sleeves I ve yet done, I think.  I love everything about them!So, as this is for the Historical Sew Monthly, I suppose I should give you the facts!Challenge #3, Stashbusting!What the item is: An 1840 s Summer DressThe Challenge: Stashbusting!Fabric: Lightweight 100% Cotton PrintStashed for how long?: About a year.Pattern: Laughing Moon Fan Front Dress, altered to my own liking.Year: 1840 s.Notions: Thread, hooks, spiral steel boning.How historically accurate is it? I did a LOT of handsewing on this dress. A lot more than I typically do. The print I think is close enough, and I was inspired for the bodice pleats and frills on the sleeves by an original dress. I did use a machine for the long seams, though. 85-90%?Hours to complete: Considering I spent about 5 hours on just attaching the skirt to the bodice, I don t even want to know. I would guess 40+.First worn: For pictures!Total cost: Drumroll . At $1.50 a yard for the fabric, the pattern cost more than everything else combined. $35 total. Ish.Happy Easter!If you have any questions or comments, I d love to hear them and answer!  Thanks for reading!Like this:Like Loading... Published in: 1840's Costumes Historical Romantic Victorian on April 2, 2015 at 8:48 pm Comments (17) Tags: 1840's, cartridge pleat, clothing, corset, costume, Costumes, cotton, diy, historic, historical, petticoats, Romantic, sewing, Victorian, victorian dresses Privacy Cookies: This site uses cookies. 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