Thursday, August 30, 2012

1884 Gown: Bustled Petticoat

...or otherwise titled "I like big butts, and I cannot lie."  Sorry...but I've had that song in my head the entire time I've been working on this thing.  Seriously though, I'm loving the bustled look, and this is only the petticoat!  I can't wait to see what the skirts are going to look like...I'm a little giddy about this!

Once again, I used a Truly Victorian Pattern.  It's a later bustle period petticoat, with an optional ruffled overlay (which I chose not to use.) 

The only bias tape I had was grey.  But, since no one will see this part of the petticoat under the skirt, then it doesn't really matter does it.  The fabric is linen...cotton would have probably been more period correct, but linen is what I had on hand.

 I chose to pleat the bottom half, because that is what I'm planning on doing to the underskirt, and I wanted a similar structure to support the underskirt.  I gathered the upper portion of the petticoat into the waistband, but I kept the gathers toward the sides, or the hip area, because I wanted the front to be as flat as possible...reducing the bulk.

 All of the TRUE undergarments are now finished.  Next up: The silk, striped, underskirt!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

1884 Gown: Finished Corset

I want to apologize for being so slow to post lately.  Between school starting, and me and Jane both having really bad colds (mine developed into Sinusitis and Bronchitis...of which I am still battling), all sewing and any superfluous activities have been put on hold.  But, I did manage to finish the last little bit of the Victorian corset I am making for my 1884 ensemble (part 1 and part 2). 

I am pleased with the way it turned out.  The Truly Victorian Pattern that I used was very simple and the instructions were clear.  The only problem I have with it (the corset, not the pattern), is that the silk habotai that I used doesn't seem to be very strong at the seams.  It's already pulling and at the brink of tearing in some tight spots. 
Also, I've been counting calories, and swimming 5 days a week for the past month, which means I've lost some weight since I made the original mock up...12 lbs. to be exact (thank you!)  And while I'm not complaining about the weight loss, it means that the corset now does not fit like it did in the beginning.  I don't have that much room in the back to tighten the laces if I lose anymore. Unfortunately for me, the weight loss seems to have occurred mostly in my chest. (Why does this always happen!) The gussets are now a little loose. :(

It's a comfortable corset.  I do have one question though...myself being new to the Victorian style corset...for those of you out there that are experience with front fastening, metal busk style do you easily fasten the metal busk?  Every time I manage to get one part of the busk fastened and move on to another, the first one slips out again.  So, I'm moving back and forth between fastenings, with not any real progress. Annoying. 

Next up (if I can kill this respiratory infection): The petticoat...already half finished.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


Jane is growing up way too fast. 
This morning was the first day of Kindergarten.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

1884 Gown: Fabric and Beginning Stages of the Corset

The fabrics are in for my  1884 Gown and Underpinnings.  For my corset outer fabric, and for the 'vest' or blouse that goes under the jacket, I've chosen a silk habotai from Dharma Trading.  The silk came in white, so I died it what was supposed to be a lilac color.  As you can see in the above picture, it's much darker than what I would consider lilac.  It's almost plum colored.  By itself on film, it looks sort of blue-ish, so I've paired it in this picture with a true royal blue, so that you can see the difference.


 Here's the layout of the corset lining, in white linen.  Set out like this, it seems a mile long.


 And here is the corset's surprisingly simple.  And it didn't take long to make, since I'm using the machine.  There are a few wrinkles, etc, but I'm sure those will disappear when the boning, and other layers of fabric, go in.  Once it's finished, I will post a picture of it on me.

And here's the layout of the silk fabric, flat-lined with a cotton duck.   All of the boning, lacing, grommets and the busk are ready to go.  I'm hoping to get a good deal of it put together tomorrow.  And although I don't have any pictures, the bustled petticoat is cut out and ready to be sewn together.  I won't be making a proper Victorian chemise, maybe later.  For now, I'm going to just use my Regency era shift.

And now for the luscious, yummy part...the fabric for the under-skirt, over-skirt, and jacket.  I ordered a grey and taupe silk-poly blend for the underskirt.  YES, I know pure silk would have been more accurate, but I had to go with cheaper fabric in the end.  The same goes for the over-skirt and jacket a grey, taupe and white, check instead of a stripe...the original would have been pure wool, but mine is a wool blend of some sort.  Honestly though, I really can hardly tell the difference.  Both fabrics feel divine, and look the part.  I ordered both from Fashion Fabric Club.

I really like the way both fabrics drape.  I can already tell, just from playing around with the fabric, that 1884 is going to be a fabulous look.

Saturday, August 4, 2012


It is not a secret...
I am, unabashedly, an Anglophile.

Although I have been to Europe, I've not been to the one place my heart has always longed to go... 
Great Britain.
It is the home of my ancestors...almost all of them are from Britain, with some from Ireland.  I love British culture...tea, royalty, wit, humor, fashion, music, history, landscape, architecture, and most importantly, literature (J.R.R. Tolkien, J.K. Rowling, Dickens, Shakespeare, Thomas Hardy, Sir Thomas Mallory, George MacDonald, C.S. Lewis, G.G. Byron, John Keats, Bram Stoker, the Bronte Sisters, and of course Jane Austen... Should I continue?...I could go on all day.)  
I was debating with a friend of mine the other day about whether or not it's possible to be homesick for a place you've never even been.  I think so.
I'm fascinated by the London Olympics right now...I can't get enough of them.  I thought the opening ceremonies were lovely, and an appropriate tribute to British history and culture.
So, in honor of Great Britain, and the London Olympics, I've done a little make-over on a piece of furniture I recently bought off of a friend (I hope you don't mind, Natalie!)

Here's the before picture.

It's an adorable little Victorian washstand.  Normally, I would have wanted a piece like this to stay it's original, natural, wood and stain, but it had already been painted over at least a couple of times.  So, I saw no harm in painting it once again.

And here's the after picture.

I was inspired by this piece of furniture I found on Pinterest.  It took about three coats of paint to cover the original paint...and a whole lot of measuring and painting tape, and remeasuring, and repainting, to get the lines in the design straight.  In the end, I decided to sand it a bit around the edges to give it a sort of distressed look.  I plan on changing out the white door knob as soon as I find something I like.  Even though it's a washstand, I'm using it in the dining room as a sort of sideboard or buffet.  For now, I have a framed print set against the wall, but in the future, I would like to find a large antique mirror to give the negative space above it a little more personality.  This is probably my final summer project.  School starts again for me next Wednesday.

Long live Great Britain!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

1884 Gown: Planning Stage

A friend of my Mom's recently gave her this book to pass on to me, The Wonderful World of Ladies' Fashion: 1850-1920, edited by Joseph J. Schroeder, Jr. and published in 1971.  It's a collection of fashion illustrations from a variety of catalogs and periodicals dating between the years of 1850 and 1920, and with a few from earlier periods as an introduction to how fashion has changed.  Represented are magazines and journals such as Harper's Weekly, Der Bazar, Godey's Lady's Book and Magazine, Ladies' Home Journal, Pictorial Review, etc.  Vivid descriptions of fabric types, and some construction details accompany each illustration, but there are also adds for beauty products, and home-making goods, fashion satires, and poetry in addition to the fashion designs.  It's a fascinating read.
Here are a few samples from inside the book. 

Aren't they lovely!?

So, anyway, Natalie, from A Frolic through Time, approached me the other day, and asked if I had ever thought about having a Halloween tea/party, with a Victorian/Steampunk theme.  No...I hadn't thought of it...but what a BRILLIANT idea, Natalie!  So, she's planning one, with my help, and we've both started to work out what our outfits will be.  And like the mad women we are, we plan on having them finished before THIS Halloween, not next.

I'm using the above illustration from 1884, found in my new(old) book, as the inspiration for my Victorian/Steampunk outfit.  Here's the description:  

"Costume of golden brown, dahlia or plum colored repped wool.  False skirt covered with a pleated skirt.  Tablier draped in a shawl point, and raised very high near the hips.  At the back is a small pouf coquettishly draped.  Gypsy jacket.  The fronts open widely, and are fastened only at the neck.  They are trimmed by a small round cord forming brandebourgs.  Buttons terminate each one of these.  The side forms of the back are slightly extended, and fasten over the box-pleated back in the same manner.  Red velvet collar, cuffs and Swiss belt."

I will be using patterns from Truly Victorian, and since this is the first time I've made anything Victorian, I will have to start from the ground up...corset, petticoat, bustle, and all.  I really love the look of the early 1880's...still a bit natural form, but with some sculptural detail and texture starting to reappear.

This gown, is a bit later, from 1887, but the description of fabric is gorgeous, and I'm using the color and texture scheme of this gown for my 1884 ensemble.  Here is part of the description: 

"The study in grey and brown, which is given under the title of a "summer walking dress", is copied from a batiste, the skirt of which is composed of brown stripes, and cluster lines of grey, and white.  The overskirt and basque are checked, in the same colors, and the full vest is of soft silk, in lines of yellow, and brown.  The cuffs and collar are of nut-brown velvet.  The hat of crinoline, is of grey, striped with brown, and trimmed with brown velvet, and lilacs in the natural color."

I've already ordered some of the fabric...velvet, plaids, stripes, in browns and just speaks of Fall to me.  I am so excited to be trying something new...a new era, new fabrics, new construction techniques, etc.   The fun part, will be getting to add quirky details and embellishments to make it Steampunk!  Time will tell if I'm as successful with the 1880's as I've been with the era of the Regency.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

A Ballerina in the Making

Earlier this summer, Jane tried soccer, and with the exception of the neon-pink, tie-dyed socks, she hated every minute of it.  That's a forced smile.

So, we decided to go another direction, and she tried Ballet...

 And It's all she talks about now.

I think we might be in for a long run of leotards and tights.