I completed my first 1840s dress in February 2019, after working on it for over a year. This dress ended up being a great example of when taking it slow and steady pays off. It's great fun to wear and the hundreds of hours of hand sewing that went into it are well appreciated. I wore this dress so many times (and loaned it to friends) that I lost count of how many times it was worn!
Tuesday, July 20, 2021
Monday, July 19, 2021
As I expanded my 18th century costume wardrobe, the next item to try after making a bum pad was the ubiquitous pocket hoops or panniers.
I used a rough-textured, thick-fibered, open-weave linen in my stash for these. This linen was one of my first "historically accurate" fabric purchases, and again highlights my lack of understanding, at that time, of suitable historical reproduction fabrics. This linen has too much of an open weave to be a functional lining, it's too thick and scratchy to be a shift, and the threads are thick and chunky...ugh. Pocket hoops seemed like the only way to use this fabric in a mostly appropriate context.
The panniers are boned with two layers of reed boning in each channel. The channels are made from strips of the linen fabric.
I sewed these with linen thread which was prepared by lightly coating in beeswax before sewing.
Monday, May 3, 2021
A great way to learn more about historical fashion is to study original garments. I like to keep a few feelers out on eBay for damaged, stained, and otherwise far-from-pristine antique garments, because they're great for learning historic sewing techniques and taking patterns from!
Today I took a detailed look at this antique Edwardian corset-cover-petticoat combinations. I think it dates towards the later end of the Edwardian period, as its a mere 68" in circumference at its widest point.
It's decorated with lace, pin tucks, and whitework embroidery. Surprisingly, it is entirely machine sewn - even the buttonholes and lace insertion! I wonder if the machine sewing and sloppy seams indicate that this was mass produced, maybe piecework in an immigrant home or made from exploited labor in a factory.
You can watch the full analysis and see all the details of this antique combination undergarment in my YouTube video, below:
Thursday, April 22, 2021
Step 1: Determine how wide and long your petticoat will be
Step 2: Cut panels and sew them together
(Optional) Sew tucks, lace trim, etc.
Step 3: Hem your petticoat
Step 4: Placket opening
Step 5: Gather top of petticoat
- cartridge pleats/gauging is a documentable, historically accurate method
- easy to compress a large amount of fabric to a narrow waist
- the volume of the cartridge pleats/gauging adds "poof" to your hips, helping you achieve the mid-19th century silhouette
- it looks pretty!
Waist measurement - 26"
+ 1" length for seam allowance
+ 2" height for waistband
+ 1" seam allowance for waistband
For a final waistband rectangle of: 27" x 3"
Press the waistband seam allowances to the inside, and press the waistband in half along its length. Line up the seam allowance of the top of the (gauged) petticoat with the folded edge of the bottom of the waistband. Divide the skirt into halves, then quarters, then eights, etc, and match it up to the waistband at its half, quarter, eight points. I find it really difficult to pin at this stage, so I use a few tacking stitches instead!
Sew a whip stitch through each "hill" of the gathers. There's a great tutorial on this technique here. Flip the petticoat to the inside and fold the waistband down to fully encase the gathers. Now whip stitch through each "hill" of the gathers from this side!
In February, the Museum of the American Revolution hosted a sewing workshop to recreate an extant short gown that belonged to Elizabeth "Betty" Dorn, a free black woman who lived in New Jersey in the early 1800s.
The original short gown was made of a printed cotton fabric and meticulously stitched with near-invisible seams! It had a tuck sewn around the waist to create a drawstring channel. Note that the sleeves of the original have gone missing at some point in time!
As part of the workshop, the MOAR provided us with a sewing pattern traced off the original, striped linen fabric, detailed pictures of the short gown, and documentation on other late 18th century and early 19th century short gowns. The skilled Kirsten Hammerstrom of Kitty Calash guided us through the project.
I highly recommend their Artisan Workshops if you're looking for fun and interesting historical sewing projects!
|Side seam and gore chevrons|
|The side seams and gore seams from the inside|
|Near invisible shoulder seam|
|Tiny 1/8" hem along the front of the short gown!|
Saturday, April 3, 2021
In October 2020, I committed to making my first ever 18th century riding habit ensemble. I've long dreamed of having a few riding habits in my historical clothing wardrobe, including a blingy velvet one and tailored wool one with a contrasting waistcoat. Since this kind of garment is new territory for me, I decided to start by making a wearable mockup with the Mill Farm Riding Habit sewing pattern.
For this project, I decided to use this pink wool that I've had in my stash for years...It was one of the first fabrics I purchased when I started sewing historic clothes. In my naivety, I thought that all wools were...appropriate for every historical sewing project. The wool I bought was rough, scratchy, and a bit loosely woven. I think it will live its best life as a coat!
To contrast with the dusty rose color of the wool fabric, I'm made the color and cuffs from scraps of black cotton velvet in my stash. It feels like no matter how much of this black velvet I use up, scraps keep spawning!
I also made buttons by covering up old plastic buttons with gathered circles of black silk crepe, which was leftover from my Edwardian shirtwaist project. I showed how to make these buttons in my Youtube video, linked below.
The jacket is decorated with black velvet ribbons on the bodice, with the topmost row of trim covering the bust dart.
To be honest, I really struggled with this pattern. The instructions were rudimentary and assumed the maker had previous riding habit construction knowledge. The way the cuffs and sleeves went together was particularly puzzling and I had to make a few tacking stitches to keep the cuffs in place.
The Mill Farm Riding Habit pattern is available with 2 sizes per pattern pack. I bought the smallest size pack, sizes 8-10, with my measurements matching the size 10 measurements. Yet the mockup was quite large on me! I took out almost 3 inches from the bodice, raised the waist by nearly two inches, and narrowed the sleeves by about 2 inches.
The Finished Riding Habit
I'm wearing my wool riding habit jacket over my Simplicity 8162 stays and a handsewn cotton (yes, cotton!) men's 18th century style shirt. To mimic the look of wearing a cravat, I overlapped and pinned the collar. I'm wearing the shirt in place of a shift because wearing both at the same time seemed redundant. I'm also wearing my handsewn linen pocket hoops and handsewn silk petticoat.
You can follow my trials and triumphs of making my 18th century riding habit jacket on my YouTube channel:
I'd like to make a coordinating waistcoat to go with this ensemble! Let me know in the comments below what color you'd make the waistcoat for this outfit!
Sunday, March 28, 2021
I'm satisfied with the finished cap, and mostly just glad that I have something to cover up my half-a**ed hair when I dress up. I appreciate that this cap design allows you to tie a ribbon around it and I enjoy selecting ribbons that coordinate with my outfits (I find it helpful to use small sewing pins to fasten the ribbon to my cap and hair). I really enjoyed making the rolled whipped gathers (whipped rolled gathers??) and am looking forward to trying that technique again.