adjective:old fashioned, out of style, unfashionable [from French, the past participle of démoder "to go out of fashion," from mode "fashion"].

the concept

1836 Evening Dress

the fabric

brown/black changeable taffeta

the result

1836 Evening Dress

what's on the dvd player?

jane eyre

useful links

timeline of costume history: the romantic era

clothing of the 1830's

women's clothing, 1825-1840


Ingham, Rosemary & Liz Covey. The Costume Technician's Handbook : A Complete Guide for Amateur and Professional Costume Technicians

Bradfield, Nancy. Costume in Detail, 1730-1930

Hunnisett, Jean. Period Costume for Stage and Screen: Patterns for Women's Dress, 1800-1909

Waugh, Norah. The Cut of Women's Clothes, 1600-1900

Sunday, June 30, 2002

Voila! C'est fini!

1836 Evening Dress 1836 Evening Dress

I didn't end up adding anything stiff to the hem -- once I cut off the extra length, I found that the silhouette was fuller around the hem. Ditto with the crinoline underneath. I wasn't sure whether to go with a gathered belt or a long sash, the two options for this period -- as I couldn't find a belt buckle that looked right (ALL 1830's belts seemed to have rectangular metal buckles, from what I can tell from fashion plates) I went for the sash. I like the black as a contrast.

I think it all worked out quite well! My only irritation is that the gathered part on the front is a bit too full between the center and side tabs. Otherwise, it was quite comfortable and looked good. Of course, it's not terribly slimming, especially with the round waistline and the crinoline -- curvy women beware!

I wore this to the Social Daunce Irregulars Victorian Grand Ball on 6/29/02 -- go here for more pictures.

posted by démodé 10:00 PM

Wednesday, May 29, 2002

So I've finally gotten around to putting together the skirt! The original skirt was made of straight widths of fabric, knife pleated in front and sides and gathered in the back, and 145" circumference at the hem. This is a really large hem circumference for this early period, especially given that the original dress was made for a relatively small woman. I made mine 150" around -- still a lot of fabric, but I couldn't imagine going much bigger without a hoop (which of course weren't used until the mid- to late-1850's).

I frenched seamed the interior seams (I never have the patience or money to line a skirt). The knife pleats were very ANNOYING, as I really wanted them all to be 1" deep. Every time I thought I'd finished, and thought they were all the same depth, I'd remeasure and one would have slipped to 1.25" or similar. I finally accepted that they wouldn't be perfect.

The gathering in back was difficult too, as it was very hard to get that much fabric to gather tightly enough. I finally had to take out the last knife pleat on each side so that I'd have a bit more waistband to work with.

Now I need to hem the skirt -- I'm thinking of putting something stiff in the hem (panels maybe 10" deep) so that the skirt flares out a bit at the hem. I'm also thinking of slightly redoing the crinoline that I'm wearing underneath -- taking off one of the flounces at the hip and putting it on another petticoat layer at the hem. The silhouette is just a bit too 1840's-ish for me -- I want it to be a bit more towards an A-line (again, since this is a transitional period the correct silhouette would be in between an A-line and a dome).

1836 Evening Dress 1836 Evening Dress 1836 Evening Dress

posted by démodé 10:02 AM

Tuesday, May 07, 2002

A very busy weekend! I finished the second sleeve and added the waistband. I also finished the gathered bodice front.

First I hand sewed some gathering stitches from the neckline to the armhole, gathered that up to fit, and then machine sewed over it. Next I cut out the decorative tabs that cover the gathers -- I basically cut out a U shaped piece of fabric, piped around the U, and then sewed a matching piece to the back. I was surprised that the back actually turned out nicer than the front on the tabs -- the front showed machine stitching, while the back was quite smooth -- so I ended up flipping them over and using the hand-sewn back side as the front (more period anyway, right?).

Then I piped the top edge of the bodice -- this is my absolute FAVORITE technique for finishing bodice edges. First of all, it looks great. What's really exciting tho is it lets you finish bodices the way they were done in period (which makes a lot more sense) -- treating the fashion fabric, interlining, and lining all as one piece. This means that the seams are exposed inside the bodice, rather than being covered by the lining. While this is messy, and requires that you either pink or stitch down the seams to the lining (my choice), it makes it SO much easier to fit and make adjustments. I never seem to get my lining to match my fashion fabric when I make them up separately! Then, when you sew the piping to the bodice edge (this can be done to the top, bottom hem, sleeve hem, etc.) you use the extra fabric from the piping edge to be a facing, which you hand sew to the lining.

1836 Evening Dress 1836 Evening Dress

I started to put hooks and bars in the center back -- put four in at the top, enough to fit the bodice top (I wanted to check whether I'd need to pull up the piping to correct for any gapping -- a handy technique -- but luckily I didn't need to! Yay pattern drafting! Things fit right the first time!). I found that now the bodice is a teeny bit too small for me, so I'm going to pull out the bars and move them over a tad.

I'm wondering about boning the bodice -- the original had boning at the center front and side seams. I used to be a huge fan of boning, and I know it was an integral part of bodices of this period, but I'm not as convinced that it's necessary any more (provided your bodice fits correctly and you wear a good corset). Lately, when I've made up dresses (without pointed waistlines) and I fit the bodice over my corset, the boning seems irrelevant! See for example my 1858 jacket bodice. I'll probably add a piece of spiral boning to the CF and sides anyway, but it's got me thinking...

So now I need to move the hooks and bars (and sew the rest on), finish the top edge piping in back, and then move on to the skirt! The waistband will be sewn to the skirt as the last step. I'm hoping to have enough fabric to make a nice deep false hem in the skirt (added fullness and support), but we'll see.

posted by démodé 7:34 PM

Monday, May 06, 2002

Thinking about what I'm going to do with my hair... I love those crazy high hairstyles of the 1830's. It seems like this could be done with some fake hair and some creative wire use?

Alternately, I'm hoping I'll be able to use this Spanish hair comb (peineta) that I bought on ebay:


These combs were very popular during the 1830's (see Cunnington, English Women's Dress in the 19th Century. There's a similar comb, dated c. 1830, on the Musee Galliera (Paris) website (scroll down to the tortoiseshell comb at the bottom of the page).

The question is, how do you wear them? Do you just plop them on the back of your head? Apparently so.

Some interesting background on the peineta.

posted by démodé 2:12 PM

Tuesday, April 30, 2002

I've made up the basic bodice and one sleeve. As I suspected, the gathered over-bodice definitely needed some draping. There was a bit of hair pulling, but it all worked out well. Once I add the thingamabobs (don't ask me what they're called -- see the original drawing from Bradfield below to see what I'm talking about) over the center front and side front gathers, there'll be a lot more control. The sleeve was fun, as I LOVE piping. The messy pleats at the bottom of the sleeve (caused by knife pleating at the top edge and box pleating at the bottom) turned out well too.

Peineta Peineta

posted by démodé 10:41 PM

Monday, April 22, 2002

Evil JoAnn Fabrics! Usually I avoid them like the plague, but how could I pass up a 50% sale on special occasion fabrics? I bought 10 yards of brown/black changeable taffeta for $40, and have been completely derailed from my 1890's bead embroidered ballgown.

1836 Evening Dress 1836 Evening Dress

This dress from Nancy Bradfield's Costume in Detail has always caught my eye. In addition to just being gorgeous (and me conveniently having the crinoline to go under it), I love the transitional elements of this dress. The dress was obviously made in the late 1820's or early 1830's, and was altered in 1836 or 37 when sleeves and waistlines changed. The wide waistband dropped the waistline to its natural position (the center box pleat is off-center, indicating that it originally hung at a higher level), and my hunch is that the sleeves were cut down from the large gigot sleeves of the earlier period (the puff at the end of the sleeves is pleated in the same manner of these larger sleeves, with knife pleats in one direction at the top and box pleats at the sleeve hem.

I spent the weekend working on the muslin mock-up -- I've made up the bodice and sleeves. (The skirt doesn't need a mock-up -- it'll just be rectangles of fabric).

Front Mockup Sleeve Mockup Sleeve Mockup

Everything went well except for the $!*# pleats on the bodice. From what I can tell in Bradfield's drawing, the original dressmaker must have "cheated" somehow to get the pleats to curve around the neckline. I just couldn't figure out how s/he did it! So instead, after SIX HOURS of attempting to draft up the bodice, I gave up and decided to gather the bodice as in this c. 1830 day dress in the Centraal Museum's collection. I may attempt pleating when I make up the original, but we'll see how it goes.

The bodice front is simply pinned to the lining, hence the general wonkiness (especially in the center seam gathers). It'll look better in the real version!

posted by démodé 8:56 PM

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