Making a Linen Robe à l’Anglaise: the bodice

So over the summer I binge watched the most recent season of Poldark. Although the costumes aren’t super historically accurate (I really enjoyed reading Frock Flicks articles on Poldark – and the rest to be honest – although I enjoyed the show!), I was really inspired by the simple look of the linen and cotton gowns worn by the lower classes. I was pretty unhappy with the fit of my previous Anglaise (no written posts, just a photo post here). It was my first 18th century dress, my first historical dress, so it was littered with mistakes and faults.

I wanted to re-do this style, since I think it’s my favourite 18th century style. I went shopping for linen way back in the summer, and I included the fabric I got for this in my last haul post . I got it at Goldhawk Road for £5 p/m, and I bought five meters. I thought it was a really good deal! It’s a really nice cream linen, but it has a plaid pattern on it and different patches with a whiter weave.

My starting point was the pattern I used for my previous Anglaise. I dug it out and cut it out of a mock up. I remembered the bodice fitted weirdly by a combination of issues with the grainline and it being too big. This first mock up fit very poorly. I struggled with the grainlines (since I put none of the original pattern which was drafted with Friendship’s Creating Historical Clothes – there was also no mention of grainlines in the drafting section) and the fit was atrocious. I fiddled with the fit and cut out a second mock up – the front piece was just not working at all, though the back fit really nicely!

 

So instead I cut the back away from the mock up and pinned it on my dressform. Then I decided to drape the front part of the dress. This wasn’t ideal – especially because I was still being really lazy with draping and used random scraps of fabric and pieced it. But in the end that’s what happened. I transferred the drape to paper and then cut a second mock up. This fit a lot better.

Draping. The super lazy way. Don’t recommend.
I straightened the centre front when I transferred it to paper I swear.

 

However I still wasn’t 100% happy with it, and I was awaiting the delivery of my American Duchess’ Guide to 18th Century Sewing, so I thought I would wait the couple of weeks there was for it to be delivered. (Quick rant: Amazon originally had the same delivery date as America, but then when I checked closer to the date, the UK release date was pushed back to December, then in December it said my order had gone out of stock and they didn’t have a new delivery day – I ended up cancelling the pre-order I’d done in JULY and bought it from Book Depository, which arrived within four days. For once Amazon sucked.) Point of this was I ended up delaying the Anglaise until the end of December, at which point I was making my Edwardian ensemble.

Even though I didn’t use this pattern, I used American Duchess’ Guide to 18th Century Sewing to help with the grainlines.
Fighting with grainlines.

I started working on this again in January and since a month had elapsed, I cut out a new mock up out of calico instead of flimsy cotton and was much happier with the result. I just had to tweak the centre front (really weirdly I couldn’t have a straight centre front, it had to nip in at the top more than anywhere else – so weird!) and a couple of other small things like raising the neckline and it was good to go.

I was really careful with fitting and trying this on, so I cut it out of the interlining layer of cotton twill first, and assembled that to try on (even though I would have to unpick it later). I tried on the interlining layer and it fit alright so I moved forwards.

Cutting it out of the twill to interline.
The centre front pattern piece.
Tried it on.
I think this ended up fitting better than the final bodice. Somehow.

To cut it out of the linen, I cut each piece individually so I could work on lining up the pattern. I made sure that each piece was a mirror of the other.

Aligning the stripes.
Worked!

And the back! I didn’t bother with the sides.

I unpicked the seams that I had sewn to try on the interlining layer. Then I pinned all the corresponding pieces together and basted them.

And basted,

Then I pinned the seams and basted them, trying to line up the pattern where I could, mostly the CB and CF seams. Then I sewed them. I started from the centre back outwards.

Basted seams.
Sewn.

I did the shoulder seam last. Once all the seams were sewn, it looked like this:

At this point I tried it on, as I was worried about the wonky centre front. AND I WAS RIGHT TO WORRY.

I honestly have no idea why it’s so wonky. The pattern looks right – maybe the grainlines? Or is it just meant to be like that? Either way, I could force it closed, so I went with it. I was already worried as the centre front wasn’t completely straight, because of my weird proportions.

I finished the top edge by rolling the seam inwards twice and then stitching that down by hand.

The finished top edge.

The next step was to sew down the seam allowances so that they became boning channels.

The guts of the bodice.

I used synthetic whalebone, which has become my favourite for boning everything since last May. I simply cut the length needed (minus half an inch at the top and bottom) and file the edges down with a nail file. Then they are inserted into every channel. Now that the boning was in, I could finish the bottom edge. I did the same thing as on the top edge, by rolling the raw edge inwards twice and sewing down by hand.

For the bodice closure, I handsewed eyes and hooks to two lengths of twill tape. Then I sewed the tape to the centre front of the bodice. I thought this would be easier, as when I sewed hooks and eyes to my first Anglaise, it was very time consuming and fiddly. I think it worked out well in the end. The bodice fit isn’t perfect in any way – it still really bothers me that at times it seems too big.

For sleeves, I started out with the same pattern from my first Anglaise. It was a fitted elbow sleeve, drafted with Friendship’s Creating Historical Clothes. The most important bits are the elbow darts. There are two: one on the bottom edge of the sleeve, and one horizontally on the sleeve.

I cut the pattern out of the linen and out of simple white cotton to line the sleeves with.

I sewed the darts first, on each piece individually.

The darts.
And on the lining.

Then I matched the edges and basted them together.

Just pinned.

I finished the side seam with a french seam, then pinned the sleeves to the bodice. I sewed them together by machine. However at this point, when I tried on the bodice, my arm’s movement was very restricted and I felt like the sleeves were tight. So I undid the french seam and inserted a gusset under the arm. A gusset is a triangle of fabric, larger on the arm scythe and thinning out towards the elbow. I sewed it on by hand.

I used the lining to cover the new seams. It worked in the end, and the sleeves were a lot more comfortable after.

I finished the bottom edge by turning the lining and the outer fabric inwards, and sewing them down together, finishing them in one go. And that was it for the bodice! (except some small sleeve flounces I added later). Next up, the skirt, fichu and flounces!

Although it’s not perfect on me, it fits a lot worse on my dressform!

Visiting the Warner Brothers Studios London: costume photos

Two weeks ago, I managed to finally make it back to the Warner Brothers Studios in London. For those that might not know, the Warner Brothers Studios was where a lot of the Harry Potter films were filmed and a few years back, they opened part of the studios as an exhibit about the films. They have loads of bits of sets, props and costumes on display, plus lots of information about the behind-the-scenes work that went into the films. I went for the first time around the time it opened, so they had added the Forbidden Forest and the Hogwarts Express exhibit since I’d been.

I don’t usually post about personal things on this blog, but they had a special Wizarding Wardrobe exhibit on and I took a lot of photos of the costumes on display. I’m currently planning on making Hermione’s Yule Ball dress (in blue), so this was like a research trip! Anyway, I thought that the photos of the costumes might help other people that are planning on making costumes from the films.

 

 

I took a lot of photos of this dress.

Yes this is actually left over fabric from Hermione’s Yule Ball dress! The staff at the studio were so helpful and when they heard I was going to try to make it, they pointed this out to me. I was over the moon.

Really wanna cosplay Dumbledore one day >_>

 

Some of Rita Skeeter’s costumes were on display for the first time.

They had a dressform with half the pattern of the Beauxbaton uniform and the mock up on the other half! So interesting.

Some of Luna’s accessories.

They had a lot of Lockhart’s costumes out and they were gorgeous to look at.

Tonks!

 

Making an Art Nouveau Meg cosplay: the photos

I originally made this costume last year. I’d only worn it to one convention, October MCM London in 2016, but I only got one or two photos on the day! I really love this costume and I loved wearing it, so I was determined to get more photos this year. I also did a few alterations that I think improved the costume. I made a whole new breastplate (the other one was too big and kept slipping down), I embroidered over the lace which I think looks nicer, and took in the skirt.

I’ll link to the Making Of blog posts below.

Art Nouveau Meg: making Worbla armour

Art Nouveau Meg: Construction

Art Nouveau Meg: Details

All of these lovely photos are thanks to the wonderful Lachlan Williams (check out some of his photography here).

I can only do silly poses kay

 

Fabric Haul: July 2017

Every other time I’ve written a fabric haul, I felt like I’d gone somewhere specifically to find awesome fabric. However, since, I’ve instead been going around the London shops whenever I need anything, not really buying more than enough for one project at a time. But now I need to collect quite a few things, so I decided to do a massive London tour and hit both Goldhawk Road and Walthamstow market!

I got everything I needed in the end, and enough for two petticoats, three dresses and a pair of stays. I’m always financially limited so I always go in with a list, a budget, and a compromising mindset. I wish I could buy silk – but for the moment I can’t afford it. This is what I liked about Walthamstow, everything was super cheap! AMAZING.

So onwards.

The most important thing I want to find was fabric for my new cosplay. I plan on making this for October MCM London but I want to do it ASAP because I’m so excited, but finding the fabric was a huge headache. I’m keeping the cosplay itself under wraps (cause I’m afraid it might go wrong and I won’t finish it), but think musicals! Unfortunately I haven’t seen this particular musical myself, so I only had about three photos to work off of. I spent a few weeks stalking everywhere online and getting samples from London fabric shops. None of them were what I wanted.

Most of the options were either too dark, too shiny, or too pink.

I was stuck on the idea of this peach/coral-y taffeta (silk, in my dreams) with a warm sheen/possibly two tone. I couldn’t find anything that was a)like this b)affordable. I found a really good contender that was completely out of budget but it was gorgeous, here but I can only dream of silk. Eventually I settle for this light weight satin that was super cheap somewhere in Walthamstow.

Thinking of the 18th century, I’ve watched so much Poldark over the past few months that I was really itching to make a simple linen 18th century dress. Probably a robe a’Anglaise, I’ve got a book recently about more working and middle class clothes in the 18th century, so I’ll decide after some more research. But I did buy this lovely simple linen in Goldhawk Road! I purchased 5 meters at £5 p/m.

Still with the 18th century in mind, I bought a meter of this ugly quilted thing, but my intentions are to make an ‘ugly puffer’ after American Duchess style. This should help with my 18th century silhouette! This was only £4.50 a meter.

Still for the 18th century, I had just finished drafting my own 1776 stays so I bought one meter of this lovely old Liberty print cotton, at Goldhawk Road, for £8.95.

I also snagged up a scrap of really nice suede brown leather to do the binding. I’ve been meaning to bind with leather forever, since it’s both accurate and aesthetically pleasing, but I found leader really hard to find. Originally I wanted it to match the maroon colour on this fabric, but it was impossible, so I settled for a really nice, warm brown. The scrap should give me approximately nine meters of binding (more than enough) and it was only £10!

And then I found this wonderful, weird… thing. I have no idea what it’s made out of or what it actually is, but it was £2 p/m and I thought it would make a nice petticoat, so I bought 3 meters. For some reason, in my head, this is a great petticoat for Belle’s Yellow Dress but there aren’t any clear screencaps of the undergarments you can see in the film. Either way, it’ll be used for something!

Preeeeetty

And the last one is something I’ve wanted to make for ages now! Ever since I heard about it, I’ve loved the idea of Disneybounding AND Dapper Day. So I’m combining both and making a 1950s Peter Pan inspired dress. I AM SO EXCITED. I love the circle skirts and the rockabilly look, and I love Disney and Peter Pan so I’m just – so excited. The light green is really nice, light cotton which was £4.95 p/m at Goldhawk Road. I bought lining in both colours, a total of four meters, for around £2 p/m for both, at Walthamstow market. I’m not sure what the dark green is, but it had a really nice drape that I thought would be nice for a circle skirt, and it was £4.50 p/m.

For random bits, I bought two meters of cheap ivory organza at £2 p/m so I could make some petticoat ruffles, and a meter of an interesting textured chiffon for my secret cosplay.

And that is it for now! I’ve got enough for three different projects and a few other bits and bobs. Hopefully I’ll be posting about the making of these projects very soon!

Making a Cream Dress: the Photos

This dress was a project on a whim. I was on holiday in Spain and I’d seen an awesome fabric shop but had no immediate projects. So I set out to the internet and found a photo of a costume in Reign that I used as inspiration. I wanted it to have that romanticised medieval look, so though it is historically inspired, it is in no way accurate. I am quite happy with it! It was very good practice on building bodices, drafting sleeves and general dressmaking skills. I also got to embellish it with beads and pearls, which I loved! You can find the posts about making it below. These photos are, like all of the others, taken by amazing friend and photographer, Raquel Gaspar. Also, this dress does have a sash to go with it, which I mentioned in the blog posts, and it annoys me so much that I forgot to take it to the shoot! It really completes the look (and hides some mathematical imperfections in seam making). But alas!

Making a Cream Dress: The Bodice

Making the Cream dress: sleeves, skirts and details

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Twirling to try and show off the skirt! Instead, it got covered in mud.

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Bloopers: very unladylike boots.

Fabric Friday: NYC haul

I’ve recently gone to New York for the first time and the thing I was the most excited about was the opportunity to go to the garment district! I’d heard so much about it from watching Angela Clayton’s fabric hauls that I couldn’t wait to find it for myself. I often complain about the fabrics in London because there’s not really a fabric district. The closest is a street called Goldhawk Road, but it’s quite far away from where I live and the nicest stuff is not affordable. So I was excited for the lower prices in NYC! And I was not disappointed.

My favourite thing about the garment district wasn’t even the prices, it was the variety. I feel like in London there’s a good variety in the type of fabric, so you can get silk chiffon and taffeta and this and that, but they’re in all in solid, boring colours (maybe I’ve been looking in the wrong places – if you know otherwise, please let me know!). So I went shopping in NYC without any particular projects in mind, I just wanted to buy something different. So whatever caught my eye that I thought I wouldn’t be able to buy in London ended up in my suitcase.

I used this video as a reference of which shops to go into. I went into quite a few, pretty much all that she mentions. So on to what I bought!

Because of where I was at the time I headed to the NYC garment district, I ended up and MJ Trimmings first and maaaan was I in love. So many options, so many colours! All of the shelves dazzled me. Though it seemed like all the trims that I liked and picked up where the most expensive. I left behind one burgundy embroidered trim that was $15 a yard that still haunts my dreams. But I did buy this gorgeous blue trim for $7 something and this nice red one for about $4 a yard. I got three yards of each, and I can’t wait to figure out what I’ll use them for.

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The shop also had this warehouse clearance section, where I found three that I bought. I thought these were really good deals, as they cost between $7 and $10 and they all came with more than 9 yards. I bought a nice simple broderie anglaise lace, that I thought would be good for petticoats. I bought a leafy looking pale blue – the colour of this is amazing. And embroidered soft grey and green trim.

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I went to the garment district in a few different trips. The first shop where I bought something was called Ayazmoon Fabric. This fabric has a really nice colour that refused to photograph properly – though it’s shiny, it’s a lot softer and more like lavender than the purple that shows up here. It’s 60” wide and very drapey. However, this was my least favourite shop of the ones I went into. Though the staff was very nice at first and I haggled down the price of this, they cheated me on the total value and I only noticed after paying. Since the owner had quite a forward personality, I was too shy to dispute and instead just swiftly walked out.

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I loved the next shop. I went into Hamed Fabrics, which was recommended by Angela in her video. There I met a really nice lady who told me she’d been shopping in the NYC garment district for 30 years and this was the best shop. They had a huge selection of different fabrics for $5 a yard. The only fabric I was determined to find on this trip was something satin-y and pale green/mint for an 1860s ball gown and I found it! It’s a lot greener than this photo shows (damn lighting), and it was only $5 a yard. I think I got around 6 yards, which might be a bit short… but I was confused by shopping in yards rather than meters at the time!img_1099

This fabric was also only $5 a yard only. I’m not really sure what sort of fabric it is – it’s very light and feels a bit linen-y. But! It’s wonderfully two toned, purple on one side and this wonderful gold on the other. It’s also 60” wide and I thought it’d make really nice trim or something on a gown, so I bought one yard.

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And just as I was about to leave, I spotted this wonderful silk hiding in a corner. I’m not sure I got the best price for this – it ended up being $8 a yard – because it is silk, but it’s also quite flimsy. Nevertheless, I loved the colour, so I got two yards of it which hopefully will be enough to make the top of something. Maybe a jacket or a coat.

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The next shop was also a hit! I went into Amin Fabrics and made my favourite purchase of the trip. It’s this lovely stiff… something, but it’s stripey and a lovely shade of blue with some golden highlights. Wonderful! I thought it’d look lovely as a robe à l’Anglaise or something (is it too soon to make another?). I think I bought 5 yards of it for $6 or something? Can’t quite recall!

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In the same shop, I found this lovely (I think) chiffon. It’s pale cream with a gold shimmer and I love it to bits. I bought a yard at $8 a yard, I think. My memory is fading fast on these prices.
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My next purchase was a lovely golden brocade, but unfortunately the shop didn’t give me a card so I don’t remember the name. It was on 39th street and 8th avenue, one of the first on the right side of pavement. This brocade is gorgeous and it really surprised me because I’d seen in before, when I went fabric shopping in Alicante, Spain! I remember leaving it behind at the time because it was a bit expensive, but compared to the asking price of $25 a yard in NYC, it was cheap in Europe. I managed to get the price down to $15 for a yard and a half, which should be enough for a lovely bodice for a dress.

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My last purchase was the last two yards and a half of this golden stripey upholstery fabric. It’s 60” wide. I wanted to get more, so that it would be enough for a big skirt, but this was the last of the bold so I’m not sure what it’s enough for yet. It was a total of $12 and I also don’t remember the shop name, as I didn’t get a card.

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And that is it! I loved the garment district so much, I wish it could be my regular shopping place. Thanks for reading!

Bonus photos: I went to the MET and saw the costume institute exhibit! You can read more about the exhibit here. Here are some of my personal favourites:

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Making a Robe à l’Anglaise: Bodice

I had been meaning to embark on a true historic challenge for a while now, since I’ve been making so many undergarments and nothing to wear over them. After rewatching Marie Antoinette and getting an amazing deal on Plush Addict’s fabric sale, I settled on attempting a Robe à l’Anglaise. I dug around the corners of the internet and found a lot of useful information about it. While I also like the look of the Robe à la Française and the Robe à la Polanaise, they seemed more challenging for a first project.

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Easily my favourite dress from the film, I think

I picked up both The Cut of Women’s Clothes by Norah Waugh and Creating Historical Clothes by Elizabeth Friendship. I’d used neither before, but I’d worked with Waugh’s patterns before from her Corsets and Crinolines. Now there’s just something about scaling up patterns that really gets me, but I find the process SO PAINFUL. Maths, eurgh. So instead I went with drafting my own paper pattern with Friendship’s instructions.

Then I made a mock-up for the bodice, which required a lot of alterations, and eventually a second mock-up. I had to add half an inch at side seams, at 3/4 at the back seam, add another half and inch to the front seam and half an inch to the waistline. I thought this was odd since I technically drafted it with my measurements, but I think I maybe forgot about adding ease and that screwed me over. But nevermind!

Mock up number two! It’s worn over my 1770s stays

I then used that pattern to cut out of the golden fabric to make the bodice and out of plain cotton drill for the lining. The lining will have the boning in, so I needed it to be a stiff fabric.


Then I flatlined the lining pieces by using long machine basting stitches, and then sewed on the boning channels. I pieced it all together and used most seams as boning channels.


I cut out pieces of boning I had at the time, which wasn’t much. I didn’t want to wait for delivery so I just went ahead and prayed for best. I used cable ties, as I had bought some of these with the intention to try to use them for the Simplicity Outlander corset, as American Duchess recommends in her pattern hack. I used some spiral steel as well, that I had leftover. I filed all the edges with sandpaper and covered them with zinc tape. Then I sewed half an inch along the top, which creates a stopper for the channels and a guideline for turning the edges over. I turned the top edge inwards by hand, but only once and not twice because I AM LAZY  the wrong side of the bodice will be put against the wrong side of the bodice so there won’t be any visible raw edges. I assembled all the seams of the fashion fabric too and then sewed it to the lining by matching it and whip stitching around all edges. Now, I don’t recommend this. It’s not the first time I’ve just attached the lining to the bodice through the edges and I’m not sure exactly what I’m doing wrong, but it always looks… floppy. I think I’ll start flatlining the fashion fabric to the lining after I’ve sewed the sewing channels and before assembly. I then added loads of hooks and eyes and it was done!

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The inside of the bodice

Now to be honest, I’m not very happy with it. It still needs some good time with my iron but you can see some obvious issues in the photo below. It fits really well though and I’m quite happy with that. I also really enjoyed the fabric fashion, but it was too soft for this and it was also hard to hand sew through because it’s made of almost like velvet nap so every time it made a dent on the fabric. Oh well! Hopefully it’ll look better when it’s ironed, on a body with skirts. Oh and sleeves!

And finished!