Making an 1860s ballgown: the sleeves and skirt

So this dress is now finished! It’s been a wild, long ride. I saw the original inspiration last summer, bought the fabric last Christmas and drafted the mock-ups in February. I usually only work on one project at a time (simply because I always take a while to decide what to make), so it’s great to see this completed. All in all, I’ve learned a lot! (Again) I can see all of my mistakes very vividly, like in other projects, but every time I do feel like I am learning, and unfortunately I seem to learn best through mistakes! I think it looks okay and I’m quite happy with some aspects (I love swishing around in a crinoline and the fabric). Hopefully I’ll have some proper photos soon!

Making an 1860s ballgown: plans and foundations

Making an 1860s ballgown: the bodice


The sleeves were pretty straightforwards, as they looked pretty much the same as the ones on my 1871 Evening Dress, they are little puffed sleeves. Because the bodice is slightly off shoulder, the sleeves just had to fit my upper arm rather than other ~mystical~ sleeve magic (that I still don’t really understand). I drafted them out based on my measurements and the sleeves on the original extant piece PDF pattern. Now the pattern looked different to my evening dress sleeves in the sense that these looked more like rectangles rather than oblong shapes. In retrospective, I regret this, I think it would look better if it thinned towards the underarm like they usually do. However, since I’d followed the pattern for the bodice, I wanted to keep the same shape. I made a small mock-up to make sure my arm measurements were right (my previous sleeves have been a little tight). This worked out pretty well

So the sleeve has two components: the upper gathered puffy sleeve and the cuff. I measured the largest part of my upper arm, and multiplied by 2 and a bit. Then I figured out how long it should be. I cut this out of the fabric. I marked where the gathers would start at the top and the bottom, just a few inches from the edges (so it’s not gathered under the arm). I sewed two rows of machine stitches at the largest stitch setting and then gathered the bobbin thread into the correct measurement (the armhole measurement from the bodice).

The cuffs are my upper arm measurement plus half an inch seam allowance. The cuffs are made like a waistband: I cut a long rectangle of fabric, turned half an inch inwards at the top and bottom and ironed it. Then I folded the rectangle in half and ironed it again. I sewed it like bias tape to the bottom portion of the sleeve and then whip stitched it by hand on the inside, so that there was no visible topstitching (this sandwiches the gathered bottom edge of the sleeve in between the cuff).

The top is the cut sleeve and the bottom is after gathering.
Sewing the cuffs on.

I then played around with lace until I was happy. I trimmed off the excess width from the top of the lace and then layered it for some texture on top of the lace again (guess I could’ve just folded it… but why make things easy?). I basted this down and then gathered it lightly.

The two layers pinned together.
And gathered.

Then I handstitched it to the inside of the cuff, making sure my stitches didn’t show through to the outside.

However, at this point it was obvious that the satin wasn’t stiff enough to be really poufy so I did the same trick I used for my Jane Porter cosplay.

Limp sleeves pinned on the dressform.

I added some tulle for stiffness. However, I ran into some issues here because unlined my Jane Porter sleeves, these were not going to be lined (I decided not to line anything out of a mix of laziness and contact with some historical garments with messy inner guts). So I cut two strips of tulle and bound the edges with bias tape, except for the top edge (this was a mistake, I should’ve finished this edge too – I had planned that the armhole seam binding would be enough for it as well but it wasn’t). I then gathered down the top edge of the tulle, inserted it into the sleeve and sewed it down to the gathered top edge of the sleeve.

The little sleeve support.
And how it fit into the sleeve.

It was now time to set in the sleeves and I backstitched them to the armhole. Then I covered the seam and raw edges with some lace tape. However, I may still have to cover this with bias tape instead – the tulle is so rough that it still feels a bit uncomfortable through the lace tape.

And onto the skirts!

The skirt was super daunting just because of its sheer size. I started by looking at the PDF pattern and scaling up the dimensions to get an idea of how big the panels would be. Now this is the true reason why this dress took me so long to finish. I spent about two months after running math on the pattern dallying because I thought I wouldn’t have enough fabric. I bought the fabric before I’d even seen the pattern or really understood how much fabric these dresses take and so I only bought 6 meters (I would’ve bought plenty more as it was only 5$ p/yard I miss the NYC garment district so much).

In the end, it was true, I didn’t have enough fabric. So I cut one of the side panels of the skirt, which means it’s not as big and swooshy as it’s true potential but it was a compromise I had to make or ditch the project altogether. So instead I ended up spending way too much time calculating how to best use my fabric (and the fact that I have like two scraps left shows it worked). I ended up with a centre front panel cut on the fold, two side panels, two side back panels and a big back panel as wide as the fabric itself. I kept the dramatic train, though, so the back panel ended up being just short of two meters long (it’s crazy).

After everything was cut out, I pinned and sewed up all the seams, leaving a 7” gap on the side left panel, so I could get it on and off. This would be hidden within the box pleats. I ironed and pinked all the seams. I finished the open slit on the seam with a strip of fabric that I made exactly like I did with the bias tape for the bodice (explanation here) except it was just a scrap and not on the bias. Then I sewed it down by hand.

I then marked out all the double box pleats on the skirt (kinda like on this one pretty much). They ended up being about 4” deep. However I wasn’t sure about box pleating the back so Instead I made some mirroring knife pleats at the back. I basted these down, ironed them and then machine sewed the pleats down, and iron again.

And how it looked up on my dressform.

However at this point, I noticed a problem: the petticoats had an even hem because they are basically rectangles. The elliptical cage and skirt do not, so the back looked pretty terrible.

Bad.

So I decided to add a ruffle to one of the petticoats which should support the hem better. I cut out strips of my scraps of organdie.

Then I sewed everything together into a long strip, turned edges inwards with a rolled hem foot, and ironed it.

I then pinned it and sewed it to one of the petticoats.

Better!

Then it was waistband on! Slapped a waistband on, a hook and bar and a couple of snaps.

The scrap I used to cut the waistband, you can just see it marked to be cut on the fold.
I sewed up the corners and pinned to the skirt. The inside was whip-stitched by hand.
Ironed the edges inwards and in half.
The hook and bar, and snaps on the skirt placket.

And all that was left was hemming! I did this by trying it on and marked where it would fall just off the floor. Then I used maths (badly) and horsehair tape. I lined up the horsehair tape edge with the skirt hem edge, pinning it on the right side of the skirt. I sewed it by machine with an inch seam allowance. Then I turned the tape to the wrong side, pinned and sewed with a herringbone stitch (like on here).

I did a final fitting so here are some photos! I think the main final issues are with the petticoats, they need to support the hem and the train a lot better. I’ve already planned a train support extension and some extra ruffles around the hem, so I’ll have those done before I take proper worn photos of this dress!

It would also help if I had anywhere that I could fit the actual dress! Not even on the porch.

Bonus: twirling because.

Making a Robe à l’Anglaise: the Photos

This was my first historical project and I learned a lot from it. I finally got the opportunity to take some proper photos of this dress a few weeks back and I’ve got the photos back from my amazing friend Raquel Gaspar. I’m so happy to share them! The dress has some flaws still and things I would like to fix, but since the fabric basically disintegrated every time I rip out a stitch, I think it’ll have to keep its flaws. I do wish I could have attempted a more complete look, but hair frightens me and 18th century hair is terrifying. Maybe one day! It also annoys me that the freshly ironed petticoat got very crumpled in the walk between my house and the park, but oh well!

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Making an 1871 Evening Dress: Foundations and the Bodice

Before the summer, I came across this photo of an 1871’s evening gown held at the Fashion Museum at Bath:

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I’m not sure what about it made me go ‘oh my god’ but I did. And in the summer, I found some very cheap though enchanting light blue fabric that I bought with the intention of using it for this dress. I am sort of disappointed now, because it’s a very light and soft sort of fabric and I wish I’d bought something more lavender and taffeta/silk-ish for this project. Nevertheless, everything seemed to be prepared.

With every historical project, the trick is to start from the inside out. This dress is dated 1871 which means it falls into the Early Bustle period, where the Victorian skirt widths were pushed backwards into a rather generous backside. However, those skirt support cages seemed so complicated so I made a weak attempt with manipulating my existing bum rolls and sorts.

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Didn’t work.

As you can see, it keeps the 18th century shape so I went ahead and bought a pattern by Truly Victorian TV108 – Grand Bustle. It worked really well and I’m very happy with the shape! I paired it with a petticoat made from another pattern by Truly Victorian and my existing Victorian corset, pattern by Redthreaded.

Before and after the petticoat! So after the foundations were sorted, it was time to move onto the dress. I wanted to keep it quite close to the original garment, so I tried to mimic the seams locations.I draped the pattern on my dressform and then transferred it to paper. It need quite a few alterations as the seams were at a few awkward places and I still have a lot to learn about fit. Nevertheless, I made two mock-ups and I was happy enough to go forward.

I cut the fabric out of something similar to cotton twill and then from the fabric. I had to interface both of these layers because they were too soft to make a stiff bodice (this goes back to the poor fabric decision). I used the lining twill to cut out the outer fabric so that it made sure they were about the same size (plus it already had seam allowances).

Then I flatlined all the pieces together and assembled them with 1/2” seam allowance. I did a quick fitting and though I noticed that the shoulders, armhole and back were a bit off, I thought it would sort itself out once I’d turned all the edges inwards by the seam allowance.img_1214

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I regret not trying to fix it properly at this stage. Maybe if I had, the bodice would fit a lot better by the end. Nevertheless, I went ahead and pressed all seams and sewed them down to create some boning channels.

I used zip/cable ties for boning, since the bodice is meant to be worn over a corset already. I boned all the channels and then turned the upper, side and lowers edges inwards by 1/2” inch. I also turned the back edges inwards by half an inch twice and sewed it down to form a boning channel. However, because I hadn’t added seam allowances to the back, this was too small. I had expected that this would make it fit well for a lace-up back but it was far too small. I ended up altering these later to give the bodice a bit more room in the back (unfortunately not enough, it still has an ugly gap). At this point, I also sewed on the eyelets. It was far too early for them so this was a mistake! As I had to resew the back boning channels, it meant that the eyelets are now too far away from the edge and they look so awkward.

The original back edge

 

Then I decided to move onto the collar. The original dress has what looks like gathered tulle in the collar. I’m sad I didn’t have the reference photo next to me while I figured out the collar because I’m unhappy with some decisions. I draped it by pinning some left over fabric to the existing bodice and then drawing the shape. I accidentally made it deeper in the front and wider in the shoulders than it should be.

Draping the collar!

 

Then I cut it out of the actual fabric as a base for the gathered material.I made some notches and started turning edges inwards when I realised this would leave the gathered material’s edges raw, so I decided to bind it with bias tape instead.

Instead of tulle, I decided to gather some lace. Because I love lace. As I made the collar/bertha very deep in the front, the lace wasn’t wide enough to cover it. I thought it would look fine when I bound the edges, but the gap really bothers me now. A lot. So I think I may embellish over it later to try and make it more pleasing.

So then it was time to make some bias tape! I wanted it to match the fabric, so I decided to make it. This was the first time I made bias tape, so I looked at a few different tutorials online and went ahead. My first step was to cut 2” wide strips of my fabric at a specific angle, which involved some folding. This was very easy with my clear quilting ruler.

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Then I had to pin all the strips together and sew them, also at an angle.

This meant I now had one long strip. I took it to my ironing board and ironed the edges so that they met in the middle, which left me with 1” wide bias tape. I pinned it to the bertha so that it wrapped around and then hand-sewed it to hide stitches.

Then I sewed on a piece of ribbon which you can see in the inspiration dress. This ribbon hid the gathering stitches on the lace! It was the closest I could find in colour to my fabric. This fabric is a very pale blue, that looks mostly white in photos (though it isn’t!). It also looks sparkly in some lights, so it’s obviously some sort of mythical creation that has come to bless my days. Later, I found some other ribbon with a smoother colour that I liked better, so I replaced it. The original dress has fringe trim around the edges of the collar, but I couldn’t find any to buy that didn’t remind me of curtains. So instead I decided to go with gathered lace (because I LOVE LACE). This is a very pretty wide lace I bought in Portugal last time I was home and I’m very happy with how it looks.

 

Draping the lace to see if it was the right decision

 

It’s lace, so of course it was. I was having some trouble calculating how much I would need to add to the overskirt, as that had fringe trim as well that I would be replacing with this lace. Since I hadn’t made the overskirt yet, I couldn’t calculate properly. I was afraid of running out of lace, so I decided to gather it by hand so that I could control how much gathering went on. I was trying to gather it very lightly, so it came to about x 1.5.

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Pinned on!

Just had to pin it on and hand sew it. I’m not a fan of visible top-stitching, so I try to keep the most noticeable bits hidden. Which means a lot of hand sewing, but I enjoy it! (Plus I sort of binge watched all of Dowton Abbey while making this dress).

Then I sewed on the bertha with some slip stitches. I realised I should have sewn it on before I hand sewed the eyelets (BIG sigh), so the back looks a mess. Imma try to attach some snaps so that it can sit properly on the bodice. During this process, I had also decided not to line the bodice. I hadn’t planned on it, hadn’t thought it would be necessary, but with the seam allowance boning channels, they were fraying so much that the insides were really messy. So I took my lace tape and hand-sewed it over every turned edge of the inside of the bodice. I’ve ran out of lace tape and it is impossible to find in the UK, so until I find a solution, there will be no photo of the inside of the bodice!

The awkward gap in the back

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And that is it for the bodice! I only have some inside tidying to do. The next post will be about the skirt and the overskirt (and maybe the sleeves!).

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Making a Red Velvet Dress: the Skirt and Crown

Now that this costume is finished, I’m actually pretty happy with it! It doesn’t fit as well as I’d hoped. I’m still learning and struggling with fit, so it isn’t as comfortable as I’d wished it to be. I wanted it to be a dress I could wear, comfortably, every day if I wanted to. Though it fits, it is a little tight in the bodice and the sleeves are a little short. Nevertheless, I’m fairly happy with it! It’s everything I wanted it to be. So on to the skirt.


The skirt if very simple. Originally I’d intended for it to just be one long rectangle and then remembered that this is… velvet. Which has nape and looks different. So I cut three panels so that it would match the bodice. I sewed them together. I didn’t bother finishing these seams as not only did they use the selvage edge, but they would also be facing the inside of the lining. The lining is a long rectangle that I cut slightly shorter than the velvet. I turned the top edges inwards of both layers then basted them together with the wrong sides facing each other. Then it was just a matter of sewing two rows of gathering stitches for the three meters and some of the length of the skirt (I like full skirts, they’re so pretty).

Sounds easy, right? Everyone knows the gathering nightmare, and I experienced it once again while sewing this. Just as my gathers were nearly done, one of the threads broke so I had to rip everything out. I was slightly traumatised (it had taken me hours to sew them and very carefully gather it down), so I decided to re-sew the gathering stitches by hand. I used extra strong thread and sewed two rows. I also gathered as I went in an attempt to save time. I wanted to finish this dress before going to New York, as I’m returning on Christmas Eve. This worked perfectly and I think the gathers looked even better this way!

I didn’t take any photos of the skirt process because I was in a rush (bad me). Once the skirt was done, I sewed it onto the bodice with double threaded needle and a backstitch. I’m always terrified that the bodice-skirt sleeve will fall apart, but this seems sturdy enough. By this point, it was time for my biggest fear: the zipper. Dun dun dun.

I bought the longest invisible zipper I could find, in a matching colour. I’ve worked with zippers a little bit (only a little bit), so they’re still rather intimating. This wasn’t the worst bit, though. Because I’d sewed the cotton drill and the velvet in the bodice with the bag method and then it also had the extra panel seam, this side seam was SO BULKY that my machine hated it. It became a case of ms vs. machine.

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The machine won.

Nothing like almost getting blood on your dress to persuade to sew by hand. So back I went to double thread and backstitching and I sewed the zipper on by hand. This worked (somewhat), and by some miracle, it fit. By this point, it was 3 am and I was very tired. The next day, I only had to hem the skirt. I did this with a herringbone or catch stitch (Angela’s awesome tutorial here). I didn’t have to hem the lining because it was luckily the selvage edge and since it was shorter and inside, no one would see it.

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I was in a rush so they’re longer than they should be

That done, the final bit was to attach the bodice lining. It took forever to have it mildly match up and cover all the seams. But I managed, with lots of pins that turned it into a death trap.

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Then I sewed it down with a whipstitch.

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And with that, it was done!

To get further into the holiday spirit, I also decided to make a holiday crown. Again, Angela Clayton makes these and she’s got loads of tutorials on Youtube about how to make them. I spent weeks looking for wreath picks, but it was impossible to find them in London. I ended up finding some suitable ones in a garden centre out by Orpington. I followed her tutorial and made my crown.

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My materials, a bunch of wreath picks and ribbon
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First step was to cut down the wreath picks into manageable bits
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Then I cut a bit of plastic boning to be one inch larger than my head. I used hot glue to overlap that one inch and glue the plastic boning together, into a circle.
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Then I glued the ribbon over it.
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First I glued on the leaves and pine bits, and then the bigger bits such as the birds and pine cones.
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Once I couldn’t see any ribbon or fit any more in, I called it finished.

Many selfies followed.

FINALLY, MY PRINCESS CROWN. And my holiday project is finished! I love love love it. Especially the crown, but all of it together makes me very happy. Here are some photos of the finished project! Thank you for reading and happy holidays!

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Making a Cream Dress: The Bodice

I didn’t really know what to call this so for now I’m going with the Cream Dress. To be fair, it does look very cream. This is a dress I’d thought up doing a few months ago, after seeing a photo of a dress from Reign that I quite liked. It seemed fairly simple and I wanted something to keep me busy and with which I could practice more. The dress I originally saw on Instagram looks like this:

The inspiration dress is from season 3 episode 5

While I don’t really watch the series any more, I have always appreciated the prettiness of the wardrobe (even if it isn’t historically accurate). And so I was all for it! I bought the fabrics for this over the summer while I was away in Alicante. I bought a meter for the white and gold brocade bodice, a meter for the sleeves and four meters of the light cream with discreet dots for the skirt.

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In much need of ironing

You can’t really see it in these photos but the bodice fabric and the sleeve fabric have wonderful sheen to them. I am especially in love with the white fabric, I can’t really say what it is – it is light like chiffon, but feels more like cotton and muslin. It has a sort of shiny sheen of it, though it is very discreet. As I said, I am in love and sad that I did not buy more.

For the bodice, I got to try out something new. The last bodice I drafted was for my robe à l’Anglaise and I flat drafted that following the instructions from a book. I didn’t really like that method, it took forever and a lot of maths. But in the meantime, my dressform arrived and I could finally dip into draping! So I did. I read up on what I could, but it’s pretty self-explanatory. You put a piece of fabric on it and you draw on it.

I did one mock-up for this, where I realised the back was too big so I took it in by about an inch. Then I turned it into a pattern and cut out the pieces.

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The bodice is made up of one layer of the fashion fabric and one layer of stiff cotton twill. On the cotton twill, I sewed on a couple of boning channels, as I planned on using the seams as bone channels.

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I wish I hadn’t, because I didn’t leave enough seam allowance to make them nice and neat, so the edges are fraying a bit. Oh well! After attaching bias tape as the extra boning channels, I then proceeded to flatline the bodice. I decided to use this method because when I assembled the lining and the outer bodice separately and then joined them on the edges before, it always ended up being baggy and not… great. I was hoping this would look better. To flatline it, I simply pieced all the equivalent pieces together and machine basted around the edges, at a quarter inch in the seam allowance. Then, I assembled the body pieces in one go.

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I sewed down the seams and used spiral and steel boning to fill the boning channels. Then I turned in the top and bottom edges and sewed that down by hand, so that there were no visual stitches. The only bit that gave me grief were the shoulder seams, as I couldn’t get them quite to line up and they were very chunky. I ended up having to try to hide some imperfections further on. Then I worked on the final bit of the bodice which was the closures. Instead of going with eyelets like usual, I decided to go with loops for closures. For this, I cut a long thin strip of the brocade. I ironed half an inch on each side inwards and then folded it in half. It’s the same process for making bias tape, though I’d never bothered with that before. Then I stitched the folded edges together. I cut twenty eight two inch long bits. Then I pinned them onto ribbon, which I folded over to hide the raw edges.

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The process of stitching over these was so painful. I found some of the loops were too short, so if I sewed too far from the edge of the ribbon, the tips of the loops would stick out. After the first few straight stitch rounds, I found that sewing over with a zig zag stitch worked really well in keeping them attached. I’m not sure how sturdy, or practical, they really are – but they are damn cute!

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And that is for this bodice! Up next are the sleeves, frills and skirts.

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Art Nouveau Meg: Details

After finishing the main construction of the costume, I was finally ready to tackle Worbla again. All I had left to do was the belt. I rolled a long strip of Worbla into a tube, moulding it with my fingers to try and make it look branchy. I then drew and cut leaves out of Worbla, using a shaping tool to draw the little leafy channels. After melting the edges of the leaves and pressing them to the belt, I realised I’d made it too big. It wasn’t in proportion to the rest of the costume, it’s bigger and chunkier than it should be. However, I went ahead and painted it, made the medallion and kept it.

I drew the medallion on craft foam and cut it out. Then I sandwiched it in between Worbla, using a crafting tool to press in the edges and dents. Then it was finished with layers of craft glue, then paint and then I used black paint to detail. Then I put on the same gems as on the shoulder bit.

And it’s come to the final details! The first thing I decided to tackle were the details on the bottom of the skirt. I had been panicking about these forever as I didn’t trust my ability to draw out a pattern. I first tried to lift the pattern off the digital image, but I’m not Photoshop able enough to accomplish that. So! I took up pencil and paper and stared at the image until I could draw something.

So I came up with this:

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There was more to the left, the design spread over four A4 sheets

I inked it, photocopied it and then stuck it on a flattened cardboard box. I used Ginger Liz’s method, since hers turned out so great! Her method was to paint it over parcel tape so that the paint sort of pools over on the right side of the fabric and becomes smooth. Top tip: make sure that the parcel tape doesn’t ripple. I didn’t and mine ended up having grooves all over. So then I just painted it over in sections, letting it dry for 24 hours in between. I used Jacquard Lumière Metallic Gold and it took nearly two bottles for the whole costume.

The chiffon shifted a lot as well, so I have to be careful. But it was done! Then I ironed it to set the paint and hemmed the skirt up with Heat’n’Bond. Unfortunately, it is still too long but since it’s painted I can’t hem it any more than it is. I used this same method to paint the golden borders on the edge of the sleeve and toga.

Then I did the little bit to decorate the top shoulder of the toga bit. It just looked like a bumpy trim. So I simply took a bit of leftover trim from the making of the breastplate and sewed it so that it had little raised pockets.

I attached that to the gathered stitches at the top of the sleeve. Then I painted the little dots on the sleeve. I wanted to use Tulip’s Beads in a Bottle but unfortunately I couldn’t find anywhere in the UK that sold the metallic gold I wanted and it was too late to order it from the USA. So instead I used Tulip’s Metallics Gold 3D paint which allowed me to do little raised dots on the sleeve. It’s a different sort of gold, so I experimented with painting over the dots with Jacquard, but I figured I liked this darker gold as well.

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I also painted the accessories with the same acrylic paint I used for the armour. The accessories consist of two headbands, a hair accessory, and a snake bracelet – all were bought from eBay. I also varnished them to try and keep the paint from scratching.

The last thing I had to do was to cut and add the chains! I used little jewellery hooks and closures to attach them to the shoulder piece. Hopefully it’ll be enough to hold it in place! I am wearing this costume to the London Comic Con this weekend and I’m so afraid of ruining it. The chiffon seems to tear and crumble with everything! Wish me luck.

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Making a Robe à l’Anglaise: The Skirts, Sleeves and Trim

I wasn’t too happy with bodice, but I moved on to working with the skirts. I picked a contrasting colour, a soft blue, for the underskirt and the overskirt, connected to the bodice, is of the same fabric as the bodice.

I started with the underskirt and it was fairly straightforward. I used the width of the fabric as the length of the skirt, which means it was basically a very long rectangle. I used just under 4 meters for this. I hemmed it then pleated the top to my waist measurement. I’m terrible at pleating math (which screwed me over again later), so I spent a long time doing and redoing pleats. I loved the look of simple knife pleats, but I ended up having to include some box pleats in the beginning to take up more fabric.

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I was trying so hard to do everything neatly: finish all seams, sew straight, make it look nice and proper. So I was being super careful… until I came to the waistband. I had the iron on too high and burned a HOLE THROUGH IT.

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Thankfully that was the last hazard. I was too heartbroken to make it again (and by heartbroken I mean LAZY), so instead I strategically placed the hook and bar so that this bit was on the inside, hidden. Otherwise, I am so happy with it! I love it, it’s light and the pleats are ADORABLE.

After this, I started working on the sleeves. I used the same book, Creating Historical Clothes by Elizabeth Friendship, to draft the sleeves. The pattern looked like this:

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Then I cut it out of the fabric. I sewed the cuff dart and the tuck, then the side seams with french seams. I turned the lower edge inward twice, so that it hid the raw edges. They looked like really cute tubes!

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And the sleeves were done! Moving on to the overskirt. I had originally planned to do it exactly like the underskirt, but then remembered the fabric actually has a pattern, so I couldn’t use the width or the pattern would be sideways. So I cut three panels to measure up to about 4.5 meters. Then I hemmed it. I’ve been meaning to try cartridge pleating for a while now, and this seemed like a good chance. After digging around, I figured I still couldn’t figure out any pleat maths (I suck), so I just marked the fabric with dots, each 1/4 inch apart. This was marked on the folded top edge. I left an extra four inches at the top of the skirt, so I could fold it over and it would help support the pleats. I topstitched it down along the top edge, so that the fold would stay and it would be easier to pleat.

However, this didn’t work. I ended up with a full extra 10” inches over the desired waist measurement (since the skirt is opened at the front, this was 26” inches). At this point, the whole cartridge pleating process had taken something up to five hours, because it was my first time, I was slow, and the fabric was stiff and hard to sew through. It sucked, but I had to rip out those stitches and start again. I went for 1/2 inch pleats this time and it worked! I do hope I can figure out pleats math soon, cause otherwise I might lose it.

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Plus the 1/2 pleats looked much nicer

That settled, I attached it to the bodice by sewing through each pleat with extra strong thread. With the skirt finished, I moved on to attaching the sleeves. I set the extra bulk at the top by doing two small knife pleats, and then I covered the instead of the sleeves with bias tape, by hand.

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Then I wanted to figure out the trim. The dress looked pretty plain and boring, so I wanted to make some pleated trim out of the leftovers from the blue underskirt. I had plenty left. I bought a scalloped edge scissors and fray checked the edges. I played around with box pleats and knife pleats and ended up going with box pleats, since I think I’d seen more examples of this sort of trim in my Google searches.

After pleating all the trim and sewing the pleats down by machine, I used a small stem stitch in similar embroidery thread to hide the machine stitches. I’d originally wanted to bead it, but it felt like it wouldn’t fit in with the rest of the costume, so I went for embroidery instead. I’m happy with this result! I think it looks neat but still a little different.Then I tried it all together! I had made a little bum roll to go with this, but the cartridge pleating and the heavy fabric already raised my hips so much, I didn’t think the bum roll looked right (I’m still unclear about period silhouettes, so I can be very wrong!). I wore it over my 1770s corset from Norah Waugh’s Corsets and Crinolines, which was one of the first few things I made. Because it was one of the first few things I made, it doesn’t even have straps (I didn’t bother at the time). Since I drafted the bodice from instructions, the necklines don’t match up, so you can just see the stays popping up on the side edges. I might make another 18th century corset to compensate, but I’m not sure which pattern/style to go for.

Unfortunately, because I didn’t have any steel boning for the bodice, the back point of the bodice collapses a bit under the weight of the overskirt, which makes it look kind of… terrible. I don’t know what to do about that. After taking the following photos, I decided to add the same trim to the edges of the sleeves, since they looked a little short and boring.

The trim on the sleeves and a detail of the embroidery stitch on the trim.

And that concludes this costume! I hope to photoshoot it soon, somewhere pretty.

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I quite hate how the back looks