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

the concept

1875 Ballgown
day bodice design

the fabric

red & white striped 
red & white striped silk shantung, trimmed with white silk taffeta

the pattern

Underskirt: Truly Victorian 201 (1870's Underskirt)
Overskirt: Truly Victorian 305 (Bustled Apron Overskirt)
Bodices: custom drafted from Hunnisett, Jean. Period Costume for Stage and Screen: Patterns for Women's Dress, 1800-1909. Studio City, NY: Players Press, 1991.

the result

evening dress:
1874 evening dress1874 evening dress
afternoon dress:
candy canecandy cane

what's on the dvd player?

The Way We Live Now

useful links

Bustle Era Hairstyles: Early Bustle Period, 1870-1876

State Historical Society of Wisconsin: Notes on Early 1870s Fashions

Timeline of Costume History: 1870s

Truly Victorian Patterns

Truly Victorian Patterns: History of Victorian Clothing, Early Bustle 1869-1876


Hunnisett, Jean. Period Costume for Stage and Screen: Patterns for Women's Dress, 1800-1909. Studio City, NY: Players Press, 1991.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Final photos from Saturday's Gaskell ball! I'm still not thrilled with the wrinkly front (I may try to put some boning in there at some point), but... I love it nonetheless! I felt like a big fluffy meringue. And I would just like to add: this dress and Katherine's 1870/74 pink ballgown -- separated at birth?

(Oh, and the hair -- I got two pieces of hair-for-braiding that I braided together into one big braid, hair pinned into a loop, and sewed two hairnets over to keep everything in place. Hair nets! They are your fake hair's friends!)

1875 evening dress1875 evening dress1875 evening dress1875 evening dress

More pictures from the ball are forthcoming...

posted by démodé 10:23 PM

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Yes, I live in California, but even so I still get the urge to hibernate. I was determined to get some sewing done last night, so I put a lot of clothes on, got the caffeine ready, turned the heater up, and resisted the siren song of the couch...

And finally finished this sucker!

I still had some fabric cut for ruches from my last trimming go-round, so I just had to gather it up and attach it to the neckline and hemline (yes, I was too lazy to put my corset on my dress form):

bodice w/ trimbodice w/ trim

... and I put white buttons at the back pleats as an accent:


As I've stated before, I'll be wearing this at this coming Saturday's Gaskell Ball, where the GBACG is going with a floral theme. Thanks to all the great suggestions in my last post, I did go with making ribbon roses -- with a big red flower at the bodice center front (see pic above). I was actually going to wimp out and just buy flowers, but I'd run out of time to buy anything online and you wouldn't BELIEVE how hard it is to find straight red flowers (not burgundy, not pink, etc.). I found the red flower at Lacis in their vintage flowers sections, and got various ribbons at Poppy Fabrics for making ribbon roses for the skirt sides (I was excited to see this very same red/white stripey silk shantung fabric -- which I got at Fashionfabricsclub.com for $10/yard and $4/yard [bought it in two different pieces at different times] -- going for $15/yard. Ha!).

Anyway, making the ribbon roses reinforced to me how spacially challenged I am. I had to look at about 5 different sets of instructions and then just experiment a LOT before I got how to make the **&$$!!! thing look like a rose... but it worked out okay! The best part was using my husband's hot glue gun to glue them together and to the pin backings -- instant gratification!


I also got some red flowers to put in my hair, so I'm hoping that I fit the theme enough. I'll post final photos after next week's ball!

posted by démodé 5:44 PM

Monday, January 16, 2006

Since Ms. Lazybones actually had her clothes off and her combinations on, in order to try on her corset cover for her Edwardian suit, she thought it might be a good idea to FINALLY try on her evening bodice for this sucker. Wouldn't want to rush things, you know. Ahem.

Here's the first try on -- what's with all those wrinkles at the CF??!!

evening bodice

So I decided to put the skirts on, in case I was missing any below-the-waist bulk that might change things -- but no, not really:

evening bodice

I fiddled a bit and by releasing a bit at the CF (necessitating moving those bars [I'm using hooks & bars to close this]), and taking a tiny tuck at one of the darts (which luckily just looks like part of the dart), I was able to deal with a bit of it. It's not perfect, but I'm going to live with it.

evening bodice

Luckily the back looks good!

evening bodice

And I'm excited to see that although you can see a bit of the hooks & bars from the side, they are so flat that it's not really an issue (sometimes with hooks & eyes, if you look at the closure from the wrong side you get this big hook & eye view).

Now, I just need to add a tucker and stick the ruches on. I'm going to be wearing this to the Feb. Gaskell ball, which is when the GBACG is going, and our theme is costume in bloom. I'd like to add big red flowers at the CF top and at the sides of the overskirt, but I'm having a hard time finding nice silk flowers for a decent price. I came up with very little on ebay, and MJ Trim has some but they're very pricey. Any suggestions? Of course, the problem is I want all 3 flowers to match...

posted by démodé 12:15 PM

Thursday, December 15, 2005

I did actually get a bunch of work done on this sucker, but have been spacey about taking pictures and posting.

I drafted the sleeve based very loosely on the early 1870s puff sleeve in Hunnisett. I found it to be a HUGE puff, so I cut it way down. I wanted to be sure it would work, so I actually did a full mockup:

sleeve mockup

I forced myself to just sit down and put them together, then I sewed all the closures on. I'm using hooks and bars (well, hopefully) although I'm concerned about them showing. I've got them all sewn on, but I just need to do a try on (hello laziness!) to check that. If they do show, I'll rip them off and do buttonholes -- if not, then I may do decorative buttons if they look good.

Then it'll just be the ruching and a tucker and I'm done!

Of course, I've been conveniently sick as a dog the past three days so no sewing has been accomplished, and I probably won't make it to the Gaskell ball this weekend to wear it (no one wants to dance with someone hacking and blowing their nose!). That's okay, I can wear it to the Feb. ball which is when the guild is going -- our theme is "Victorian in bloom" so I was thinking I could slap a bunch of red silk flowers on this (and in my hair).

posted by démodé 12:10 PM

Monday, November 28, 2005

Yay for accomplishing some of that to which I set out! I piped the neck edge (so I could pull up the string to avoid gaposis), and put a bias facing on the hem, all of which I handstitched to just the lining:


Then I put a bias facing on each of the CF edges. I'm going to be closing this with hooks and bars, possibly sewing decorative-only white buttons down the front -- it'll depend on how that looks. I also want to add a tucker, which is one of the elements that seem to usually be on periods gowns, but which often gets left off reproductions. I'm thinking organza or organdy -- gotta go check Hunisett to see what her suggestions were.

I definitely need a new chemise -- none of my current stable o' chemises have the right neckline.

Next up is sleeve land!

posted by démodé 2:33 PM

Friday, November 25, 2005

I had Wednesday off from work, so I got the living room all set up for a sewing weekend and made a lot of progress. Since I usually end up posting "this is what it looks like now" pictures, I thought I'd take a lot of in-progress pictures so those who are interested can see the step by step.

I first put all of the bodice seams together, inserting the white-interior-box-pleats into the side back (& cb) seams:


The interior box pleats on the back hem were made by inserting a box pleated underlay into the seams, which extends slightly beyond the bodice hem. Since the repeat on the pleat shows (the angled line), I needed to bag line the below-the-waist portion -- but I wanted to keep the open seams above the waist for applying boning. So I cut the top half lining from white muslin, ending .5" below the waistline, and left the below-the-waistline portion unlined for now:


I lined the bottom half with white silk taffeta cut to shape to the pleats as well. I found it was easiest to iron the pleats on the fashion fabric, then sew the lining to the bottom edge (right sides together, then turn the lining to the wrong side), then iron the pleats into the lining by matching the pieces.


Then I turned the top edge of the lining down inside, turning the lining and pleat parts into toward each other. I'll hand stitch this down to the muslin lining.


posted by démodé 8:34 PM

Monday, November 21, 2005

First things first: thank you ALL for your fabulous feedback on my design ideas. I've decided to go with option #1, because you're all right about the stripey bodice being better, and I think the stripey ruche with white backing shows off the ruche to best advantage and is more subtle than the white ruche.

Second, I got everything cut out and marked -- sigh of relief! That's always my least favorite part. Now I can move on to the fun!

So with limited time available, all I've managed to do was to sew the center backs together with the inside box pleat -- there'll be inside box pleats at the side backs and center back, and they'll be out of white taffeta.


I'm hoping to really get going on this over Thanksgiving weekend -- oh bliss of three full unscheduled days!

posted by démodé 2:25 PM

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Oh, I'm SO obnoxious! So you all like option #1 (stripey bodice, stripey sleeves, white ruche) -- but I'm not convinced! So I hauled out my skirts and my fabric to do some tests, and here's what I'm considering.

If you think I'm terribly obnoxious, you can shake your head and say, "I hope that Kendra makes up her mind and starts sewing!"

If you're still with me here, you can comment and tell me which you like. I'm leaning towards #3, I think probably because it's somewhat different from what I did with the afternoon bodice. Maybe I'm just contrary! But maybe it's TOO much white, and #2 is better.... God, I'm boring myself!


posted by démodé 9:59 PM

Monday, October 31, 2005

Okay, it's voting time! Here are my terrible MS Paint concepts, please use your imagination. It's going to be some combination of solid white taffeta and red/white striped taffeta; I'll be doing the same layered ruche (red/white with solid white peeking out behind, or solid white with red/white peeking out behind).

#1: stripey bodice, stripey sleeves, white (main color) ruche#2: stripey bodice, white sleeves, white (main color) ruche#3: white bodice, white sleeves, stripey (main color) ruche#4: white bodice, stripey sleeves, stripey (main color) ruche

Now, vote for your favorite!

posted by démodé 5:04 PM

Monday, October 31, 2005

Is this a record? It's only taken me one year to get back to this project - yay! The stars are finally aligned so that I can now make the evening bodice.

I'm still working out the design (what colors will I use where?) but it'll be heavily based on the original fashion plate and similar to my afternoon bodice. We'll see. What I do know clearly is how I want the pattern shapes to be, specifically with inverted pleats in the back.

So I cut out a mockup based on my afternoon bodice pattern -- and I'm not lying, my dress form has gained weight! All very odd, but suddenly the darts weren't fitting well (verified by trying it on my body -- same deal). So I had to do some work there, adding a bit of width to the CF so that I had a bit more fabric to put into the side dart. I'm also going to widen the armhole a bit, as the armhole on my afternoon bodice tends to dig in uncomfortably. And I still need to do a how-much-cleavage-are-we-talking-here check.

I had to play a bit to get the inverted pleats in the back to work. The fashion plate is from Hunnisett, and she includes a drawing of what she thinks the back looks like, which is basically inverted pleats at the side back seams. The afternoon bodice pattern had the side back seam angled farther towards my side, which meant that the inverted pleats went off weirdly to the side. So I changed that seamline, and added another inverted pleat at the CB because it just seemed weird not to have it.

In Hunnisett's design she's got the fluffy rouche going all through the inverted pleat. I'm wondering a bit how that will work -- will you be able to see the smart angling of the hem inside the pleat, or do I need to make it more exaggerated? I think I'm going to make the inner part of the inverted pleat into more of a V shape, which I think will help.


posted by démodé 2:32 PM

Monday, December 13, 2004

Saturday's trip to Dickens Fair was much fun, once I got past being completely frazzled (hair that didn't work, which meant running late, plus hot weather and a hat that just would NOT attach to my head).

I caught the tail end of the lecture on dress reform at the Adventurer's Club, won a hall prize for costume and was thus in the costume competition -- in which I won honorable mention for GBACG attendees! yay! -- danced, had tea, and ate yummy meat pies.

Most importantly, though, I got to see lots of costuming/dancing friends! I spent most of the day with Teresa, who looked just lovely in her 1830s day dress with fabulous stripey pelerine. I was extremely exited to meet (and have tea with!) the fabulous Sarah who, I can report, is not only lovely and talented (we knew that from her website!) but excessively fun too.

I'll have photos up in a day or two; until then, here's final pics of me in all my candy cane ruffliness. I did end up trimming the bodice hem ruffle a bit in front which I think worked well. I got lots of compliments on the dress, which was very fun, except that a few were from drunken patrons who for some reason felt free to literally grab my dress and YANK. Ahem.

The only real crisis (there always is on the first wear, isn't there?) was that I had hemmed the dress just a bit too long. It basically brushed the floor as I walked, and because of the pinking on the white ruffle, the bottom frayed -- which then collected all the sawdust ("snow") on the ground. So I trailed lots of sawdust and the occasional stick throughout the day. Luckily, I can simply cut off about .5" off the bottom of the ruffle with my pinking shears and it will be solved!

candy canecandy canecandy cane

posted by démodé 4:05 PM

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

TA DA! ...and quiz time!

I'm done! Wow! And it's only Wednesday! Two full days before the event! This is a new trend!

I got all scientific tonight, doing everything in logical order -- ie cutting all the ruffles/ruches, ironing all the pleats, sewing together all the trims, then attaching all the trims. Usually I'm way less streamlined, with lots of wandering the same route through the apartment over and over.

I knew I wanted to do something contrast-y with the sleeve trim, given that I was using the solid white fabric, but I wasn't sure quite what. I got out a bunch of my fashion plate books and confirmed my suspicion that the trim needed to echo some other part of the dress -- and since the bodice hem was echoing the overskirt, I thought I'd echo the underskirt with the sleeves.

So I ended up with a reverse version of the underskit trim -- two rows of striped fabric in pleats (had fun reversing the direction of the bias stripe), topped with a solid white ruche on a red/white ruche underneath.


Finally, I sewed on the bodice hem ruffle and the ruche there (SO happy to discover I'd made extra ruches/ruffles when I was doing the skirt trim).

So now it's quiz time! I put it all onto the dress form and sat down for my evaluation, and immediately started wondering about the bodice hem ruffle (the solid white bit). When I was looking at it in person, it looked like just a bit TOO much froof -- but then when I took pictures with the ruffle showing, and then the ruffle tucked up under the bodice, I liked the with-ruffle better. It would be super easy to take off (I could just trim the ruffle underneath the ruche), but I'm just not sure!

What do you think?

with rufflewithout rufflewith rufflewithout ruffle

Finally, Sadie would like to say this:

deer mommee yor dres is FASINATING kan i put my maus under it and then hyd under it and atack the othr kat wen he waks by and wee cud shred it with owr litl paws it wud be SO FUN luv sadee


posted by démodé 11:23 PM

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

We have achieved sleeves!

Having a REALLY bad cold (literally two days on the couch with a fever) slowed down progress, but I wrestled with my mockup and finally got a sleeve that I liked. I realized that the problem was that the basic sleeve sloper I was using (drafted out of The Costume Technician's Handbook) wasn't fitted enough at ALL. Once I got a fitted sleeve, it was easy to add the flare below the elbow.

I also trimmed the neckline, and was thrilled to find that the extra top buttonhole is indeed covered by the trim, so I took off the matching top button and all is well! Yay!

Obviously I'm not going to be getting to the talma wrap, but I should be able to finish this for Sat. (GBACG day at Dickens Fair) with no problem. Just need to trim the bodice hem and the sleeves (still finalizing what I'm going to do there, but it'll be a reverse color scheme -- red/white trim on the solid white sleeves).

sleeve mockupsleeve mockupneck trim

posted by démodé 10:49 PM

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

The skirts are done! Now I just need to redo the sleeves and trim the bodice/sleeves. I'm HOPING to maybe be done with that fast enough to whip out the Truly Victorian Talma wrap -- but we'll see. It would be tres chic, but sanity (and sleep) shall prevail.


posted by démodé 11:14 PM

Monday, November 22, 2004

(Temporary) defeat accepted! When, at 3am Saturday morning, the dress still wasn't in wearable condition, I made the admirable decision to chuck it all, go to bed, and wear my black & ivory natural form gown. I worked and worked and worked, but it never happens as fast as I think it should.

Thursday night I made the sleeves. I thought I liked the mockup, but when I made the real deal I stopped liking it. I want to make it fit a bit more on the upper arm and then to flare out just from the elbow -- right now it's too much of a big tube. Forgot to upload photos, sorry!

Friday ALL day and night I worked on trimming the skirt. The pleats around the hem of the underskirt were the killers -- it took a while to iron in the pleats, and then I had to pin each one into place before I could sew it. It looks fabulous, but it took most of the day.

At 2am I was finally making ruches, which I've got laid on here (not stitched) to see the effect (which is going to be really good!), but again, I was going to need a whole lot of ruching to make this thing wearable -- plus I had yet to trim the sleeves. Sense ruled over sensibility, so to bed I went!

underskirt trimunderskirt trimunderskirt trimunderskirt trim

So! Now I will make this for the GBACG day at Dickens Faire on 12/11. Yay for new deadlines! Photos from the tea coming soon.

posted by démodé 2:38 PM

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Confession time: I've been avoiding my blog like crazy, both because I'm deep in must-sew-deadline-approaching-mania, and because I'm irritated (just slightly) with one element.

The buttonholes took me THREE DAYS -- but that's what you get for making bound buttonholes, I suppose! This time around I used the method in the Reader's Digest Book of Sewing (or whatever) described as "foolproof" -- sounded good! I certainly need that when it comes to bound buttonholes! Basically there's a whole lot of basting involved, which before you remove to complete the buttonholes allows you to measure so you can be sure there isn't any wonkiness. This actually worked out well except for 1 buttonhole which is slightly wonky, but hey, I can live with that. I turned the stripe on the straight for some contrast on the buttonhole lips.

So then I made my covered buttons out of white taffeta and sewed them on...


...after which I was able to start binding the edges and finishing up the neckline, which is where the irritation came in. I wasn't 100% certain about how the V-neckline would be affected by the front overlap, so when I finalized the neckline I realized that my top buttonhole is too high -- it really should start one buttonhole down. I'm HOPING that once I put on the super-froofy trim, I can cover that buttonhole -- in which case I'll just take off the button and ignore it. Could be a whole lot worse, but it's a drag because it's not something I can rip out.


So now I'm onto piping edges and sewing in boning -- the lovely Mercurio stopped by Lacis during a trip to the East Bay and got me boning and boning tape -- yay! We love her!

And now I'm off to the race to the finish -- and no, I CAN'T wear the dress without trimmings (I did buy pinking shears, so that's good, right?). Besides, there's no victory to attending an event unless you haven't slept the night before, right? (But seriously... let's just say I predict I'll feel a bit peaked on Friday [cough cough]).

posted by démodé 4:09 PM

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

hee! i look like a big stripey candy cane!

Over the last few evenings I cut out the bodice (refreshingly easy as I had a separate piece of not-off-grain fabric) and basted together my layers, and then put together the main bodice pieces. Did the first try on tonight -- the fit is a little weird around the armholes and neck because I haven't clipped the seam allowance yet:


...after which I took in the darts just a smidge at the top (to get rid of that pointy thing) and took in the waist at the sides a bit more. I'm also going to lower the V neckline a bit to avoid the choking look.

Now I'm trying to gear up for buttons and buttonholes -- le sigh! Seems like an awful lot of work making bound buttonholes, but you know me -- no machine shortcuts here! I looked through a bunch of period images and fashion plates to see if anything used any other closure, but it seems like buttons were ubiquitous. Of course, I only have 8 covered button forms in the house, which necessitates another trip to Joann's for supplies.

I also need to get boning for this. I never buy boning ahead of time because you never know what final measurement you're going to end up with. I want to just do the easy thing and order online, but Lost Coast Historic Patterns doesn't have the lengths I need, Greenberg & Hammer and Farthingales want me to spend my firstborn child on shipping, and we all know what happened with Grannd Garb when I made my 1910s corset. So it seems I'm going to have to call AlterYears or Lacis in the morning -- maybe Lacis? I could just go over there, but when you live in San Francisco, a trip to Oakland takes about 3 hours round trip, and that's just too much time out of my life!

Back to buttonholes...

posted by démodé 8:59 PM

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Tonight I finished up the bodice mockup and pattern. Had to do some adjustments to the darts and finalize the neckline -- I ended up just making the back rounded. I figure I'm going to put a big ruche on it, it doesn't REALLY matter what shape it is. Plus, all the interesting shapes I was finding in fashion plates etc. worked better for tailored styles -- the froofy ones like mine just seem to be round and froofy.

My left side (your right) is the fitted side.

bodice mockupbodice mockup

Now if I can stay awake long enough, I'm going to start cutting!

posted by démodé 11:43 PM

Friday, November 05, 2004

I spent last night draping the bodice. Can I just say that I LOVE LOVE LOVE draping? Not just because you can do with your hands what you spent years trying to do yanking commercial patterns into shape or trying to wrap your brain around the geometry of pattern drafting. But also because it's just such a tactile way to make what you see in your mind happen in reality... Okay, I'm done waxing poetic.

I really like where I'm going in the front, but not too sure about the back. The evening bodice is going to have inside box pleats, with the inside of the pleat in solid white (like in the Truly Victorian 1870 evening bodice pattern) -- but I think it would be boring to do the exact same thing on the day bodice as well. I was trying to go for the ruffly full look you see in a lot of early bustle era bodices, but it's still pretty flat. Off to my book collection for inspiration!

Here's the intial drape:

bodice drapebodice drapebodice drape

And the first mockup:

bodice drapebodice drapebodice drape

posted by démodé 1:19 PM

Sunday, October 31, 2004

Even though I was sidetracked by Halloween, I've been busy assembling things for this project.

The first big one was finding enough white silk taffeta for all the trimming. I'd finally settled on ordering from Silk Connection because they had the best prices, but of course stupidly didn't order a swatch first, and the silk came back noticeably more of a natural white than a bright white (anybody want to buy 5 yards of natural white silk taffeta?). So I hauled myself down to Thai Silks and went through their remnant bins, which aside from the hauling factor worked out well because I got 6 yards for $30.

So now that I had the fabric, it was time to start on the trimming. A few nights ago I started marking and cutting out the strips of fabric to make the three pleated rows around the underskirt. I have a nice pair of pinking shears that I inherited from my mother but which probably haven't been sharpened since 1975 -- I've never made the investment in another pair because I kept thinking I could get these sharpened, which I finally did at Costume College -- but I don't know if they're just dead or if the sharpener sucked, because I was able to cut out about one row of fabric before the teeth just started chewing the fabric.

So! New pinking shears needed. I've admired those pinking/scalloping blades for rotary cutters for a while, so I went to crappy Joann's today to pick some up. But noooo, Joann's only carries replacement blades for Fisk rotary cutters, not Olfa which is what I have. So now I need to find a Michael's and hope that they have what I need.

So since I was stymied on the trimming front, I sat down tonight to watch scary Halloween movies and sewed hooks and eyes on the two skirts (which as we know, should really take about 5 minutes but in reality takes about 5 hours).

Next I decided to finish the overskirt by marking the poufs (finally picked up some white twill tape -- I just don't think black would cut it). I basically followed the pattern's markings, except that I added a third row of attachment points as I don't like the look of poufs at the top and then a bunch of straight fabric.

The skirts aren't fitting my dressform at the waist because I left my Victorian corset at work after our Halloween party -- but you get the picture.


Speaking of dress forms -- my Uniquely You is adjustable in height by a little plastic ring that fits around the pole of the stand. The ring has screws, which means you move the ring where you want it, tighten the screws, and then the ring holds up the form. But my ring cracked and broke (hello crappy plastic!). Now I remember someone telling me that the same thing happened to them, and they contacted the manufacturers who sent them a snappy replacement METAL ring -- but I can't find the contact info for the manufacturers! I did some web searching but came up with zip. Anyone know who makes Uniquely You's and how to contact them?

posted by démodé 11:03 PM

Thursday, October 21, 2004

While I haven't really done any sewing, progress is being made. I've been buying supplies for the Talma wrap -- just won some white cotton velveteen on ebay, plus I got some 4" rayon chainette fringe from M&J Trimming in NYC (which I'm hoping to maybe do some knotting on) and some red velvet ribbon to trim it. Also got some white velvet ribbon with which to decorate my hat, and little necessities like white twill tape (for the overskirt bustle poofs) and silver hooks & eyes (for some reason, all I had was black which wouldn't work well on this fabric).

As soon as Halloween is over, I'll be back on track... I'm glad the tea is at the end of the month!

posted by démodé 9:16 AM

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Yay! Finally had a sewing weekend for the first time in ages.

Went over to Heather's last week for help marking the hem. I also put together a mockup of the overskirt, but don't have any images as the camera was out of town with my husband.

First I spent about 3 hours on Saturday wrestling with the fabric, trying to straighten the grain. I yanked, I basted, I checked, I rechecked -- no go. I did get a little progress by basting it together and ironing -- managed to make it workable for the overskirt. Luckily I have a 2ish yard piece that's a separate cut which is on grain that I can use for the bodice -- the rest of the off-grain will be just for trim, thankfully.

The overskirt was relatively easy to make. I did have to add length (as I always do, being 5'11", plus I'm going to wear heels with this outfit which I normally don't), so I made a mockup. Although everything went together fine, I was glad to have the peace of mind that comes with making a mockup. The only issue I have with the pattern is that I think the pleats at the side of the skirt should match, and they don't. However, I didn't care about it enough to futz with it, but rather left it as is.

I did see that I'd need to add another point to pull up the back of the overskirt. The skirt has three tapes that extend from the waistband down towards the hem -- you attach the skirt at various points to pull it up. I'll need to futz with that a bit to figure out what works well. I lined the back of the skirt with one layer of net, which extends the length of the back piece but ends where the sides stop being joined.

I did a narrow machine hem on the overskirt as it's going to be covered with trim anyway.

These are in-progress photos -- the front of the overskirt hasn't been gathered and sewn to the waistband yet, hence no front images.


I started to really caculate trim and realized that I don't have enough plain white taffeta. I need 4 yards just to do the pleats around the hem of the underskirt, plus enough for sleeves for both day and evening bodices and ruches for the overskirt, bodice, and sleeves -- not only do I simply not have enough, but I have 2 yards of white taffeta that's so lightweight it's see through that I bought online, plus 2 yards of heavy white taffeta that I got in the remnant bin at Thai Silks. So I hunted around to try to find the best deal and ended up ordering some more white taffeta today from Silk Connection -- at $4.77/yard, it's hard to beat! I'm hoping the weight will be relatively comparable to the Thai Silks taffeta (or at least close enough not to show) -- I can use the nice Thai Silks taffeta for the sleeves on both bodices, and the Silk Connection for all the trim. I hope.

I'm also starting to daydream about accessories. I've always wanted one of those little tiny ineffectual hats to perch precariously (like in this Godey print). The Truly Victorian Clio hat (bottom left) looks perfect and it's affordable, so I ordered one in red. Yay!

Since I'm going to be wearing this for the first few times at winter events (tea at the Ritz in November, and to Dicken's Fair as well -- hey, I'll be a customer this year, I can wear whatever I want!) -- and since I seem to be on target for getting the day outfit done in plenty of time (we'll see, all that trimming may finish me off) -- I'm starting to fantasize about outer wear. I ordered a copy of the Truly Victorian Talma wrap pattern, which I'm hoping to make in white velvet with red fringe for trim. Yummy! Of course, I will worry about finishing the dress first and then worry about outerwear -- plus I need to find a source for white cotton velvet that won't break my bank. Speaking of which, since I am a relative newcomer to the land of velvet, can someone tell me whether velveteen would work for something like this? I know it's a shorter pile than velvet, but I'm not sure how different the two really appear. And what's the deal with silk/rayon velvet? Why does everyone recommend avoiding it for costuming use (or is that just a Renaissance thing)?

posted by démodé 10:26 PM

Monday, October 04, 2004

Good lord, she actually SEWS? I know, I know! Real Life(tm) has been getting in the way lately, with way too much to do and not enough energy. But I'm finally getting going on this, and I'm usually pretty good at getting a little sewing done most evenings (once I've gotten past the work of patterning and cutting), so hopefully there'll be a little more excitement around this here place.

I did finish the petticoat about 2 weeks ago. Most of it I put together on one summer afternoon when I was supposed to be working on something else...

I wasn't sure of how I was going to get the right silhouette for this period. 1875 is right in between the big bustles-that-are-really-hoops of the early 1870-73 period, and right before the natural form no-hoops-it's-all-below-the-knees 1876-80 period. I decided for ease and sanity to go with my 1880s bustle and make as full a petticoat as I could stand to go over it. I used Truly Victorian's TV 201 1870s underskirt, with a ruffle around the hem (which has cording in the turn-over) and ruffles up the back. The CB is really quite wide so that plus the ruffles really gave me some nice fullness.

The one mistake I made was deciding to level the skirt at the waistband, rather than put in the waistband and then mark the hem. Levelling skirts is really easy on skirts that are the same length all around, and a real bastard when they're not! Not only was I trying to get the length right at all these different points around me, but I had to deal with the fact that the petticoat would be gathered at the waist. Ugh! Never again!


Although I'm still working out the final design (more on that in a minute), I was pretty certain on the skirts so I started there. Also, I want to get a really precise fit on the bodice and for that I need the bulk of the skirts to fit over.

I used the same pattern for the skirt as for the petticoat. The main irritation is that the fabric is off grain, so I spent twice as much time cutting and still don't really have the fabric on grain. Any suggestions? I tried the fold in half, baste, and then yank method but it's still not 100%.

Other than that, cutting out the skirt pieces and putting them together (oh, the joys of flooring it on those long straight seams!) was relatively straight forward. I put a side opening in the skirt and gathered it onto some gros grain ribbon (as the waistband won't show). Still need to put the hem in, but for that I need to twist someone's arm to mark it for me... I'm impressed at just how full the skirt looks over the petticoat (the fact that it's made of taffeta helps!).


Of course, next up will be trim, and that leads me to -- design! I'm still working out exactly what I want to do for the day dress. Here are two REALLY BAD design concepts (work with me here). What I'm not sure about: make the bodice out of the stripes and sleeves out of solid white taffeta, or vice versa (most fashion plates of this era seem to do one or the other). Everything will be trimmed with solid white pleats/ruffles, with layered ruches on top (white ruche on top of red/white ruche), although I am wondering whether the middle of the three pleats on the underskirt should be red/white stripes... opinions?


posted by démodé 1:39 AM

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Here we goooooooo... This has been on my want-to-do list for so long that I really need to crank it out. I've always loved this fashion plate from Jean Hunnisett (you know me and stripes! I promise to do something non-striped next... well, maybe), plus I really want to work on some outfits that already have completed undies (so much less work when you're not making the corset too).

At some point this will have an evening bodice, but right now I'm going to make the skirts and afternoon bodice. The afternoon bodice will be some conglomeration of the Godey fashion plate in the "concept" section and this dress (found on some for sale site but can't remember where!).

day bodice designday bodice design

I'm going to use Truly Victorian patterns for the skirts. I've realized that drafting skirts is a lot of work for something that doesn't require a lot of fitting, so it's easiest just to use a commercial pattern.

I've actually cheated on this project in that sometime last year, when I was supposed to be working on something else, I put together most of the petticoat. I'm going to do a little faking on this project -- I think I should really wear a larger bustle than I have under this (not quite the REALLY big early 1870s, but still bigger than my more 1880s sized bustle. The petticoat (pics to come, sorry, not that organized) is made from the underskirt pattern (early 1870s) and has lots of ruffles up the CB portion. I'm hoping that will bulk up the skirt enough to suit the mid-1870s look.

I'm hoping to get the afternoon outfit done by Nov. 20, which is the GBACG Tea with the Buccaneers (only one of my favorite bustle-era movies); evening bodice will be forthcoming at some unspecified date.

I'm also working to regain my excitement about putting all this out there after being flamed by an obviously unbalanced person; I know I should always expect it, but I'm still seething a bit. I promise to get more details up soon.

posted by démodé 11:03 PM

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours? Weblog Commenting by HaloScan.com
© démodé, contact.
Please see my copyright/common sense page before using this webpage or images for anything other than personal or educational use.