While we where both styled to our teeth, we also took a few shots together, me and my sister.
Photos/filming: Elin Evaldsdotter
The week before the ball my sister came over to do the final fitting and to take some photos.
She is wearing her new green corset, orange cage crinoline, petticoat and 2 pieced gown. Accessorized with black gloves, black lace-fan, a black velvet bag, silver tiara and necklace. She is also wearing a chemise, stockings, bloomers and dancing shoes.
Video of the gown in motion (shaky mobile video – sorry)
When all the underwear (almost all, I still had the chemise and a second petticoat left to finish), it was time to get started on the dress itself.
Since the dress was for my sister, it was she who ultimately took all the decisions on the final style, and I came with lots of suggestions, inspirations and different looks.inspiration sketch
Since the budget was particularly scarce on this project, we decided to cheat and use a set of IKEA curtains I already had in my stash for the dress fabric.It’s a thin polyester in a lovely dark blue/teal color that would be really pretty in a style like this.
1 pair of 2,5m x 1.45m curtains would require some really thoughtful cutting and pattern layout, but with some math and quick calculations I was fairly shore I could get the dress cut from the fabric (as long as I didn’t do any errors…)
I also recently ordered 5 m of silver sparkles and a few m of black lace which both would be perfect for this project. (So, not stash, but almost:-))
I started by drafting the bodice pattern using modern templates and my sisters measurements.
Then I did a quick mock-up that we tried on over her recently finished corset.
Lots of adjustments needed
Then I got to work making the skirt.
Then I sewed the skirt panels together, interlined it with a black cotton fabric that also would serve as lining and pleated the top to my sisters waist measurement.
not completely happy about the look of the pleats, I put it on my dress-form (over the new crinoline) to get a beter look. Something seamed wrong.
So I grabbed my books and read up on the period way to pleat the skirts to he waistband, and there I found the answer – by the 1860s they left the knifepleats of the earlier period for a few double box-pleats evenly spaced around the skirt. So that what I did.
Then I attached the skirt to the waistband and after a final fitting cut and hemmed the length. I also moved some and added some extra sparkles and stitched on a narrow black lace ribbon to the bottom edge.
Then it was time to get started on the bodice.
I started by interlining all the pieces in a strong black cotton twill, after which I stitched the darts and the pieces together. I added some bias tape and bones to the seams to make the bodice old its shape.The interior of the bodice
Then it was time to try the gown on my sister.
Don’t you just love how she matches the wall…
Thank good for multiple mock-ups. The bodice (and skirt) fit almost perfectly (the wrinkles you see at the back will disappear once I got the center back bones in).
After some minor adjustments, I set the sleeves and the lining and got started on the eyelet for the back lacing.Here I ran into trouble. after almost 3 months of planing and making undergarments for this dress, I still hadn’t found any suitable lacing cord in a color that would work for the dress. I’d been to every sore in town, searched the internet, contemplated using black or even discard of lacing for closure all together, when I realized I might in fact have something in my own stash that would work.
Hurray! The odd colored cotton cord I’d got on super sale a few years back turned out to be the exact shade of Teal I needed – what are the odds? Perfect match! – Is this a sign my stash are to big?
Then I got my sister to come and try it on for a (almost) final fitting, where we marked the skirt length, stitched the belt on the bodice and added hooks and eyes to the waistbands of both pieces to keep the bodice from riding up.
We also decided on how to accessorize, and to ad a piece of the same black lace around the sleeves and hem.
And since I want to submit this dress for the Historical Sew Monthly nr 5/2017 – Literature, I did some thinking on what book I would choose to make it fit. Then came the obvious answer – Victoria and her Court by Virginia Schomp (find preview from Google Books here).
Because who if not Queen Victoria would house a gown like this.
Just the facts:
Challenge: Nr 5/2017 – Literature
What: A 1865s evening dress
How it fit the challenge: It’s a plausible outfit for one of Victorias many ladies in waiting, or even the Queen itself, as described in Virginia Schomps book Victoria and Her Court.
Pattern: I drafted my own after studying the 1865s dresses from Waughs Cut of women’s clothes and Arnolds Pattern of Fashion.
Fabric: 5 m of teal colored polyester curtains (2 pieces 250 x 145 cm each), 4 m of black sheets for lining and 0,5 m of black cotton twill for interlining.
Notions: Thread, Buttonhole-thread, 7 short bones, 1m black bias tape to use as bone casings, 1 m heavy interfacing for the belt, 1 belt buckle, cotton cord for lacing, lots of silver spangles and 7 m of black lace for decoration.
How historical accurate: The shape/look is right, but the construction, pattern and material are all modern. So maybe 4/10
Time: In total about 20 hours (on the dress).
Cost: Almost everything came from stash and/or was really, really cheap. I think I payed about 300 Sek (30 Usd) total for everything. But on a dress like this there really is no limit at what it could cost.
First worn: For photos on May 1 by my sister, and later for a ball on May 6 2017.
Final Thoughts: Both me and my sister are totally in love with this dress. I love how it’s so stylized yet over the top at the same time. The small bodice comparied to the lovely exaggerated shape of the skirt, and the subtle sparkle of glitter when it moves makes me very happy. I also had a lot of fun making it. Only problem is, now I want my own…
As I mentioned in an previous post about my sisters 1860s corset, I couldn’t resist the temptation to make one for myself (even though I didn’t need one and really didn’t had the time for it). I tried to convince myself that it would be like a workable test-run of the pattern for my sisters corset. But since I both started (and finished) it after my sisters was already done, that argument fell kind of flat.
But anyhow, I did make one for myself :-).
Wanting the fitting just right, I also made a second mock-up – based on my own measurements (instead of my sisters).
Using a beautiful cream/golden coutil from “Vena Cava designs”, and a orange cotton sheet for lining.
I sewed it up in the same way as my sisters (but I didn’t need any additional alterations), so it went faster.
Attaching the busk to the beautiful golden fabric
Oh, how I wished I’ve gotten the tad more expensive golden busk on my last order.
Isn’t it amazing when your stash yields everything you need for a beautiful composed corset 🙂 (or maybe that a sign I got to much stash? Neh 🙂 )
Pattern: “Past pattern” 1860-1880s corset
Fabric & Notions: 0,5 m cream coutil, 0,5m orange cotton for lining, 1 busk, grommets, boning (plastic and metal) 4 m cotton cord, 1 m golden lace, thread, buttonhole thread for flossing.
Time: About 7 hours – pretty fast and easy
Cost: everything came from stash, but bought new probably 350 Sek (32 Usd)
Final Thoughts: I’m in love with this corset. It’s so light yet really strong, and it’s really comfortable, and on top of that I think the colors are delightful. 🙂
The next piece (after the corset) I needed to make for my sisters 1860s evening attire was the crinoline.
And since I’ve been wanted to make one for quite some time, and already had the pattern, I just needed to decide on fabric and get started.Using “Truly Victorian” 1865 Elliptical Cage Crinoline pattern
Since I wanted to use as much of my stash as possible for this whole project (both corset and dress material are basically all from stash) I went diving in my fabric bins and came out with an unexpected (very) Orange cotton sheet that wold work.
All pieces cut and ready
The pattern was really easy to follow, and I was so happy that I didn’t need to do any calculations what so ever on this one (as opposed to my 1850s self drafted crinoline). I did however need to use all my brain-cells and keep the concentration high when trying to get all the noted measurements and markings right.
The fabric I had was almost enough, and once all the pieces and ribbons was cut, all I had left was shreds, and I still needed some fabric to enclose the free hanging bones. this was all that remained
I contemplated getting another 5 dollar sheet, but decided on the easier (but way more expensive) alternative and bought the 15 m or so bias tape needed to cover the bones/hoops.
I spent a full evening measuring, cutting, encasing and taping the bones to make them into neat bias covered hoops.
The working was slow (but not difficult), and I loved watching the whole piece come together by pinning on one row of hoops after the other, matching all the pre-made markings.
late night work
slowly getting there
Once all the hoops was pinned to their mark, it was time to make the final adjustments to get everything to hang/sit smoothly and evenly.
I’m not sure if it was my markings/measurements (probably) or some error in the pattern but It did needed quite a lot adjustments.
Lastly I spent two whole nights hand stitching the hoops to the ribbons.
To be sure I made everything correctly, and not made any foolish mistakes or own inventions, I used the sewing instructions quite a lot, referring back to them before, during and after each step. This made the work go slower, as it always does when working on something new and unfamiliar, but I do think it turned great.
The crinoline was awesomely big and that meant I couldn’t fit in my small sewing room, but needed to work in our loving room. Which also meant I couldn’t close the door but was forced to pack everything away as soon as the baby awoke (about 3 times a day).
It took me bout a week of 1-3 st 40-90 minutes intense work-sessions to get the crinoline done.
What: A 1860s Hoop Crinoline
Pattern: Truly Victorian (TV103) 1865s Elliptical Cage Crinoline
Fabric & Notions: 1 orange cotton sheet (about 2,5 m fabric), about 15 m of brown bias tape, tread, 1 belt buckle, 1 m of interfacing for the belt, about 21 m of hoop wire, duck-tape, 4 m of cotton sting. I also needed heavy pliers, strong fingers and lots of patients.
Time & Cost: The total time was maybe 10-15 hours and I guesstimate the material to about 400 Sek (40Usd).
Final Thoughs: I love it! It so ridiculously big and orange. And it looks gorgeous under my sisters evening skirts.
The pattern was easy to work with (even for one not used to the inch measurements), but I don’t think I’ll willingly do another one for a loooong time…
Here’s some photos of my sister in her new 1860s corset.
Who knew it could be so much fun sewing guesses?
When I started working on the 1860s corset from “Past Patterns”, for my sister back in January I dreaded what was to come.
All the Guesses…
4 on each side = 8 on the outer fabric
+ 8 on the lining =16
Then of course there was the question of the Mock-up = another 8
And me, my crazy as decided that a second mock-up was needed = another 8 guesses
I must say I lost count by now, but I’m not finished yet…
For once I started on my sisters corset, I of course wanted one of my own… (but that’s for a later post)
I think the final counting (including a few that needed re-setting) lands at about 60 or so.
But lets take this from the beginning.
This winter I got an invitation to my dance groups yearly historical ball, that was to be held in May.
I immediately asked my sister if she would like to join – which of course she would.
Then we started debating what to wear.
The timespan set for this ball was 1750s-1850s, so a pretty big gap and quite an ocean of possibilities.
I decided to postpone the difficult decision for myself a few months – after all I have a wardrobe full of dresses that would do (more on my thoughts on this dilemma in a later post).
But my sister only had one or two things from previous events, which non would work for this occasion. Quickly drawn sketches of possible ways to go.
And since The time I had to spend on her dress was limited by both my family and my work, we needed to find something relatively simple to make.
So after some debating back and forth, we (despite better judgment) decided to make her a complete set of 1850-1860s evening attire.
Starting with the corset.
And here we are.
I drafted the pattern from “Past Patterns” mid 19th century stay pattern, with some alterations for my sisters and made a mock-up.
Silly me, thinking that the few bones in this corset would hold upp the cheap cotton I use for most of my toiles. No It wont do. So I made a second mock-up in a much sturdier upholstery fabric (a friend bought at IKEA and gifted to me).
Sorry no photos of the second fitting, but it looked much better.
So I cut the fabric, a beautiful light green satin I got a few years back for exactly this purpose (well, it was intended for my corset, but what do you do – sometimes sisters need pretty fabrics to ;-)).
Then I did another fitting, which I usually never bother to do, but since we where to meat for a cup of coffee I figured, why not.
That was a good call, since some adjustments still needed to be made.
I took it in a few cm at the top, let out a few at the bottom, shortened the whole thing a bit and added two extra bones on each side.
Only the bone in the middle is from the pattern.
What: a 1850-1880s corset
Pattern: “Past Pattern” nr. 708 – Mid 19th century stays
Fabric & Notions: 0,5 m green cotton sateen, o,5 m cotton interlining, 0.5 m green cotton for lining. Thread, 1 busk, boning (plastic and metal), grommets, buttonhole thread for flossing, 1 m ivory lace, 4 m of cotton cord for lacing.
Time: With the many fittings, and short work sessions late at night it took about 10 hours.
Cost: Everything came from stash (fancy that!), but bought new about 300 Sek (25 Usd).
Final thoughts: I think it came out really well, and my sister loves it. Lets just see how well it holds up on the ball room floor…
But I wanted a differnt look, or rater a more traditional simple yet stylish look. So I once more turned to the internet (bles you Pinterest) for some inspiration for 1840 – 1860s summer dresses.
So much prettyness…
But if you follow me on facebook you already knew with one I choose to me my main inspiration.
Nostalgic musings, on historical clothing, traditional costume, fantasy, photography and history.
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