|1880's Wool Dress, photos by Lisa Coffey.|
Pouf! A new dress!
I haven't posted anything about the progress of this new dress because I had to make it so darn fast. Last month we (as in the civilian ladies of the Southern Nevada Living History Association) decided to do a bustle era outing, which coincided with an SNLHA "timeline" event at the Old Mormon Fort, which is an event where one can portray any era they wish. Very fun.
So anyway, we all decided on bustle era. I had nothing but the bustle itself, which I ordered long ago from Period Corsets, so I ordered patterns and went through the stash and decided on this great "leather brown" wool I had originally pegged for a riding habit. I think it worked awesome for this, though.
I was inspired by the tailor dresses of the later 80's, with their plain, almost austere design and asymmetrical elements. I imagined this dress to be maybe a walking or traveling dress, with it's simple design and sensible fabric. I am totally in love! I'm not really inclined to frills...
I didn't get to start on the outfit right away, unfortunately, since I had to finish up my civil war bits for the Spring Mountain Ranch reenactment at the end of last month. When that was all over, I started on this.
I used Truly Victorian patterns as my base and then modified and embellished from there. Specifically, TV261-R, TV382 and TV460. I wore the Period Corsets' bustle underneath, topped with their bustle pad for extra oomph and then their bustle petticoat. I ordered these all long ago, thinking I would need them one day. I was right!
I wore my 1860's corset since I didn't have time to make a new one. The hat is from Mrs. Parker's Millinery and Mercantile. The little pettipoint purse, I picked up at a vintage clothing store here in Las Vegas years ago, and the fan is an antique from Spain that my Grandmother picked up on her travels. I should have taken a photo with it open. It has the most beautiful hand painted florals on the front and a faint watercolor painted scene river scene on the reverse. The hankie is another Nevada find - Boudler City. The gloves were an etsy find and, magically, they were never worn - dead stock I guess, complete with tags! And they fit perfectly! Yay!
|The fan was very handy. It was sunny and quite warm for November.|
So on to my favorite part of this dress, the construction. I love love loved putting this dress together. I used Authentic Victorian Dressmaking Techniques and Couture Sewing Techniques as my bibles. The Victorian Dressmaking book is actually written in 1904, but a lot of the techniques used go further back, so it is a great resource. I also found a beautiful 1880's complete gown on ebay that I bought and used for reference. I will have to devote a whole post to that another day. Gorgeous!
The dress is all wool flatlined with polished cotton. The hem of the underskirt has a ten inch bias crinoline facing, covered with the polished cotton, and tacked to the lining of the skirt. This really helps the skirt drape nicely and not collapse around the leg. It also keeps it away from your feet. There are lead drapery weights at the side seams about ten inches up. You want them up from the hem so they weigh down the skirt but don't get kicked around when you walk. The hem also has brown wool tape to protect it.
|The lead weights are neatly enclosed in the mitered corners.|
|The waist closure.|
The asymmetrical drapery is attached to the underskirt at the waist, as is a small loose, smocked panel on the left side, which helps cover the closure. The hem of the drapery is lined with double folded bias organdy and it has lead weights in the points, to keep the drapery hanging properly. The drapery is not lined. The hem is slipstitched. The gathered side, on the right, also has a lead weight. The skirt closes with large hook eyes.
The bodice is boned in all the seams and front darts, the bone casing attached to the selvedges with catch stitches. The wrist openings are faced with the polished cotton and the sleeve caps are lined with bias organdy to keep their pouffy shape. The sleeve caps are also set with sleeve heads, which give extra shape and stability to where the sleeve meets the shoulder. The hem of the bodice is faced with bias self fabric (the wool). The center front is faced with wool and cotton and the buttons work. At the waist there is silk petersham waist tape and a hook eye. On the front, the pleated panels are mounted on cotton and slipstitched to the front of the bodice.
|The bodice, inside out.|
|Sleeve heads, set in.|
|You can see the waist tape attached at the center back.|
If I had had time, I would have finished the selvedges with a hand stitched overcast or seam binding. Considering I was still sewing on buttons an hour before I got dressed, something had to be sacrificed. I think I will go back and do this, though, because to me, the inside of a garment is often more interesting than the outside. I'm also thinking of adding a little padding to the chest so it's more full over the top of the bust.
All in all, it was a fascinating construction process. It's probably the most technically involved project I have endeavored. I really wanted to make clothing, instead of a "costume." I wish I had more time to really do it up properly, but I can always go back and improve. Now I really want to learn tailoring!
Have a lovely weekend, all! Xx, C.