Project Journal: Versailles Sacque: A Pretty Petticoat

The petticoat for my Versailles Sacque has been done for a few weeks now, but was waiting in the blog post queue to have its progress made public. It’s sort of boring to look at the whole petticoat, because it’s just a petticoat with longer sides than normal, so I’ve focused the pictures on the more interesting waistband section of the petticoat. (As you can see, this picture was taken before I ironed the front of the petticoat…)

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In making the petticoat I referenced Katherine’s 18th Century Petticoat Tutorial and The Standard 18th Century Petticoat Tutorial at A Fashionable Frolick. The nice thing about Katherine’s tutorial is that it’s adjusted for a petticoat to go over pocket hoops, while the great thing about the tutorial at A Fashionable Frolick is that it has tons of detailed construction information like which stitches to use. Both tutorials are clear and very helpful.

When it came to pleating, I thought I might struggle as Mr. Panniers is larger than normal pocket hoops, but I found that once I put the petticoat on the dress form with Mr. Panniers underneath I could neatly arrange the pleats around the waist and not go into the extra complicated pleated needed for a very square and wide pannier shape (such as in Katherine’s court gown and Kendra’s court gown). Whew! I placed all my pleats off to the side (further than I would for a normal 18th century petticoat) to keep the front of the petticoat flat where the trim will be visible between the fronts of the sacque.

The front panel of my petticoat is the fashionable silk that my sacque is/will be made of. (Enjoy the sneak peak!) The back panels are the same blue mystery fabric that Mr. Panniers is made of. The ties are polyester ribbon to match the silk, because hey, I was already fudging the accuracy of materials with the mystery fabric but on the other hand the color compliments the silk very nicely!

Here’s what the inside looks like. The extra fabric at the top of the petticoat is turned to the inside, slit up the middle to accommodate the curved top edge, and left raw.

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And here is the back. The petticoat is hand sewn. The center back seam is felled mostly because I am slightly obsessive with having nice insides and the other two seams are selvedges. For some reason the raw edges across the top don’t bother me. Go figure.

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I’ve also been playing with hair styling. I’m not satisfied yet, so I don’t consider it done, but at least I’ve made a start! The sacque is coming along nicely, too!

  • Panniers
  • Petticoat
  • Robe a la francaise (with a subset of trimming)
  • Hair
  • Shoes
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Project Journal: 1880s Steam Molded Corset: Finished Corset Photo Shoot

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I’m excited that the 1880s corset I made last summer is finally, actually, finished! I got around to adding the finishing touches, lace and ribbon around the top, over the fall. Now there is nothing left to sew, and, after two wearings I can say with confidence that there are no little alterations I want to do! Yay!

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The first wearing was in August last year, with my 1885 frills and furbelows dress. The second wearing was in January this year, under my new 1899 evening gown. Both times I found the corset to be extremely comfortable to wear. And in January, I was able to get pictures of the completely finished corset! So, without further explanation, here is the corset in its finished form. (If you didn’t get to read all the intricate details of the patterning, construction, and steaming process, you can see all past posts here, in the project journal.)

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The super frilly petticoat was a great prop for these photos! (I’m much better at looking natural rather than awkward when I have props!). It’s from 1903 and was finished in 2011. I’ve worn it many times but have never taken photos of it on me. It’s entirely silk, with two layers of flounces, both made of multiple gathered circles and edged with wide lace in a scallop pattern. It closes with a silk ribbon that threads through the waistband in manner described in Authentic Victorian Dressmaking Techniques. It’s decadent to wear–it makes rustling sounds, has great body, and when you take it off it stands up on it’s own! I can’t remember how many yards of fabric went into this petticoat, but I know it was a lot, with all the circles in the flounces!

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In these examples, you can see the petticoat being worn with clothes on top: I’m wearing it to wade at the beach in 2012 and to give volume to a summer ensemble in 2012, but I’m also wearing it under probably every outfit you can find on the blog from the 1890s or 1900s, even if you can’t see it. (If you’re curious, here’s what it looked like in a half finished state.)

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Awesome petticoat aside, this corset is pretty decadent to wear, also. Silk, tons of curvy seams and bones, perfectly fitted, lovingly, painstakingly, and beautifully sewn… what’s not to like!

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Thanks to the usual camera toting culprit for doing a corset photo shoot with me in the midst of getting dressed for a ball! You know who you are.

(As a side note, it’s a challenge to take historical clothing underwear pictures that look reasonably like historical photos and images but don’t go into the modern lingerie photo direction. See the inspiration here and here? I tried this as well as the standing pose in the second link, but awkward really describes the outcome. But I think we did pretty well in the end. It’s amusing to feel these photos are revealing when I’m quite dressed by modern standards… Do you feel the same way about taking pictures in your historical underwear?)

Vernet Project: Making Progress

Our group’s early December deadline to finish sewing our Vernet Projects is fast approaching! Thank goodness we’ve had all year to work on these–mine has been quite a project with all the hand sewing and patterning and learning new skills. Of my five pieces, one is totally done, two have less than three tasks left to be finished, and 2 are still about halfway completed. It won’t quite be furious sewing, but I do have to keep at it to get it done in time. For now, here is proof that I’ve been making progress!

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Starting December 7th, you should check in often with the group on Facebook to see each recreation released side by side with the original Vernet fashion plate. It’s going to be really, really amazing to see these crazy and beautiful fashion plates in 3D form!

HSF/M #1: 1895 Hug-able Skating Costume

This is one of my favorite outfits of all time. I just want to hug myself, with all the fur, and I love the trim on the back! The whole thing is so cozy and so hug-able and the skirt has such a nice drape and the accessories work so well… and I actually got to go skating in it! I am just utterly chuffed (to use a British word) with the whole thing!

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I was on the fence about whether this outfit would apply to the Historical Sew Fortnightly/Monthly Challenge #1: Foundations, but then I read Leimomi’s teaser post about her foundation entry in which she reminds us about different interpretations of foundations and the intent of this challenge to create loose guidelines open to interpretation.

I was convinced (or pushed off the fence, if you prefer to think of it in that amusing way). I’m claiming my all new 1895 skating outfit for the first challenge of the new year! It does rather stretch the idea of foundations. Is the skirt a foundation because it is literally worn below the jacket, thus being a foundation as you would think of one in a building? Or is the bodice a foundation, because my direct inspiration is a lonely jacket without a skirt and therefore it is the foundation of the outfit because I wouldn’t have made the skirt without having the jacket? Either way, there is an element of a foundation in there.

Just the facts:

Fabric: 5 yds of ivory wool, about ⅓ to ½ yd of dark brown faux fur, probably about 3 yds of scrap muslin for flat lining the jacket, a bit of scrap canvas to stiffen the collar, and a bit of ivory flannel to line the inside of the collar.

Pattern: Made by me and based on my inspiration jacket as well as patterns published in Authentic Victorian Fashion Patterns (a Dover book).

Year: c. 1895.

Notions: 5 yds of brown braid, thread, a bit of high loft polyester batting to keep the sleeves puffed out, about 1 yd of ivory hug snug to finish the bottom of the jacket, hooks and bars for the skirt, and thread.

How historically accurate is it? Pretty darn good. Definitely recognizable by someone in the 1890s. The construction is accurate, aside from the use of hug snug instead of bias and faux fur instead of real fur. So, 95%.

Hours to complete: Um… As usual, I did not keep track. I definitely spent at least 15 hours the few days before the event sewing on my braid and fur trim… Plus full days of pattern making, fitting, cutting, and sewing. Maybe 30-40 hours? I care so much more about the finished project than the time it takes to get there! And I loved sewing this, so I didn’t mind that it took time!

First worn: To a skating party that was part of the Commonwealth Vintage Dancers‘ 1890s weekend in January.

Total cost: $75 for the wool, probably about $8 for the fur yardage I used for this project, $4 for the braid, and the rest from the stash = $87

My accessories were a matching fur muff that I made a few years ago and wore once for caroling (with my as-yet-undocumented 1860s winter cape) but more often with my 1917 winter ensemble and a revamp of my 1883 wool hat. I didn’t have time to make a new hat because of all the last minute fur and trim sewing, so I pinned a fur scrap around the 1883 hat and added some feathers to stand up a bit more like 1890s hats and called it good. My main inspiration (and the reason I feel it was an acceptable looking style to have the squashy fedora hat look in the 1890s) was this image.

For good measure, here’s my Pinterest board for the entire project. And here are pictures of us skating (with ice skates: all our snow and cold weather does occasionally come in handy here in Boston)!

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Yes, we just crashed a local outdoor ice rink on a Sunday afternoon. One of the attendees even wore vintage skates! Turns out they can be hard to skate in because they’re not very supportive… but they looked fantastic! We got lots of comments from people asking what we were doing, why we were dressed up, and that we looked good. I was asked by multiple groups of young girls why I was dressed up and one group in particular asked what the swirly thing was that I had, which I got to explain was a muff to keep my hands warm!

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Here’s our skating group. People came in a variety of late 19th century and early 20th century winter outfits as well as modern clothes.

With my skating ensemble I wore fleece lined tights (modern, but warm so I didn’t care), knee high bamboo socks (modern again), my 1903 silk petticoat (super useful for the 1890s, also), a modern tank top (instead of combinations, because I needed to go to work later in the afternoon and change out of my outfit in the back seat of my car without being indecent…), my 1895 corset, and a long sleeve modern waffle tee (mostly to shield my skin against the wool seam allowances and also for warmth). And I was perfectly warm wearing this out for skating on a day that was sunny and right around freezing. In fact, with the muff and wool hat I actually was too warm at times.

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Pleased, chuffed, and smiling all afternoon! So fun! Maybe we will get to go skating again this winter!

1950s Adventures Part II: Autumn Colors

Back to 1950s adventures! I started the adventures with my previous post about the beginning of our day at a 50s themed diner. After leaving the diner we wanted to get some pictures with the beautiful New England autumn colors in the background, so we thought we’d find a place along the side of the road. We took a wrong turn over a bridge and got a little confused, but the confusion wound up with us driving past a lovely side road/private drive with lots of lovely trees and rock clumps. Rather impulsively, we pulled over a hopped out to take some pictures… and here are some of the results!

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Autumn in New England!
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Striking a pose at the base of the road we stopped on.
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There’s a song that used to play on the Oldies radio station when I was young: “Secret Agent Man”–when I look at this picture I start singing that song in my head… “They’ve given you a number, and taken away your name… (instrumental: doo da doo da doo da doo da doo da doo…) Secret Agent Man!”
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This looks like it’s straight out of the autumn edition of a clothing catalog.
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We were playing pass-around-my-petticoat so no one would feel left out.
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Petticoat!
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There were so many fun places to take photos!
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Group shot on the rocks.
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Serious faces. It has since been determined that if we were to start a hipster band named Queens of Rock, this would be the cover of our first album “Colors of Fall.” Of course, we’d be super obscure and you wouldn’t have heard of us…
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The colors are so complimentary! And the glasses are cute.
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Showing off my more casual, modern footwear… purple crocs that match my dress!

So there you go. I hope you enjoyed all the leaves! Next stop is the roller rink…

Belated HSF #11: 18th Century Apricot Petticoat

Life! Is often great, but does rather get in the way of sewing plans sometimes…

This HSF challenge #11 had a due date of June 3rd. I actually finished sewing on June 18th, but I’ve been busy posting about other things so this has been even further delayed. Oh well, I had the best of intentions: to complete this 18th century petticoat for the Squares, Rectangles, and Triangles Challenge.

Description:
Many historical garments, and the costumes of many people around the world, use basic geometric shapes as their basis. In this challenge make a garment made entirely of squares, rectangles and triangles (with one curve allowed), whether it is an 18th century kimono, a flounced 1850s skirt, or a medieval shift.
 
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Apricot (orange) 18th century under petticoat.

Just the facts:

Fabric: Almost all of 4yds of apricot cotton I bought back in January.

Pattern: None, but I referenced both of these tutorials on constructing 18th century petticoats.  Katherine’s tutorial is for a petticoat with an uneven length (to go over panniers, or a bum roll, for example). Rebecca’s tutorial is for a petticoat with an even length (the same length all the way around, to be worn without extra supports). Both tutorials have construction information, Rebecca’s includes a bit more detail in terms of which stitches and methods to use.

Year: Loosely 1700-1790.

Notions: Thread, yellow polyester ribbon for ties.

How historically accurate?: I give it 70%. Accuracy gets knocked down because: 1- the color is a bit vibrant for the period (but it’s an under petticoat, and I wanted it to be fun!), 2- all unseen seams are machine sewn, 3- I used bright yellow polyester ribbon for ties, 4- I haven’t seen much research that shows cotton being used at this time for a single plain petticoat of this sort. On the other hand: 1- all finishing was done by hand, 2- the dimensions and method of creation are historically accurate.

Hours to complete: 6 or 7? I can’t really remember…

First worn: Well, Squishy wore it for pictures!

Total cost: $12 for the fabric. The ribbon is leftover from my childhood craft projects…

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Side view.
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Front. See the yellow ribbon?
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Back. I love how the pleats fan out.

I chose to bind the top with self fabric and use polyester ties in a fun color for this petticoat, since I knew it wouldn’t be seen and I might as well use some of those things from my stash! The back half of the petticoat ties in front, then the front ties wrap all the way around to the front and also tie in front. That’s why you can see all the yellow ribbon crossing in the back. This method used a solid 3 yds of ribbon, though the ends I have to tie with are generous and could probably be shorter if I wanted to save on tie length.

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Back tied in front before the front gets tied. There are hemmed pocket slit openings on each side.

I just love the color of this petticoat. It’s so bright and sunny and cheerful, especially with the yellow ribbons! There’s also a sneak peek in this last picture at what will likely be a future HSF item: the bum roll… more on that soon-ish.

Project Journal: 1864 Ball Gown Part IV: Three Series Of Photos

Remember in my last post I promised pictures of the finished ball gown now known as Evie? The time has come! I had a hard time narrowing down the options (because of course I wanted to share ALL of the good pictures), but I’ve tried to limit myself to only the best of the best. This post will focus on the completion of my dress, Evie, but there are two more posts coming soon that will share some of the other photo series as well as pictures of the ball itself!

These photos are the idea of my friend with the camera. She wanted to take series of pictures of us in our modern clothes, 1860s undies, and then dressed in our 1860s ball gowns: all in the same location and the same pose. It’s a neat idea and the results are great, not only because it provided lots of pictures (yay!) some of which are of things I don’t have pictures of (like my 1860s undies), but also because you can see the time passing through the evening by looking at the light in the photos. They start in the afternoon, proceed to early evening, then finish at night. Not all the series are a complete set, but all around, it’s pretty cool. Which series do you like best?

Series 1: To The Right

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To The Right: first layer
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To The Right, second layer
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To The Right, third layer

Series 2: What A Change

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What A Change, first layer
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What A Change, second layer
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What A Change, third layer

Series 3: On The Stairs

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On The Stairs, first layer
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On The Stairs, second layer
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On The Stairs, third layer

I’ve never been able to get pictures of my 1860s undies before, so this is exciting! I’ve got a chemise, corset, drawers, cage crinoline, and petticoat (in addition to stockings, shoes, jewelry, hair wreath, gloves, fan, and gown). The crinoline is entirely hand sewn, except for the waistband. The measurements of the hoops are taken from an extant crinoline, and I believe the circumference of the bottom hoop is about 120″. The crinoline closes with a hook on the waistband. The other pieces are machine sewn and trimmed with lace, pin tucks, and ribbon. The chemise slips over the head and the drawers close at the back with a button and loop arrangement. (And that poor petticoat does need a press… but I threw it in the washer and dryer a while ago and since it doesn’t usually get seen I haven’t taken the time to press it.) The petticoat ties around the waist. As you can see, the crinoline stops mid-calf, so the intense petticoat ruffle really helps keep the shape for the skirt below that point, in addition to keeping my hoops from showing as horizontal lines through the skirt of the gown.

Want to be further amused? Look at the apparently changeable feathers on my hair wreath. Sometimes they’re brownish/gold and sometimes vivid green! They really do seem to change color depending on the light!

I don’t think I’ve mentioned it yet, but the basic pattern for this gown is essentially taken from Janet Arnold’s Patterns of Fashion 2. The trim however, is based on two things. Thing 1: the skirt trim is from the fashion plate I shared with you in the first post of this project journal. Thing 2 : the bodice trim is based on this gown, below. I went through a lot of phases trying to decide how to trim the bodice, since I didn’t really like the fashion plate bodice trim. In the end, I decided on this look: a graduated ruffle (just one, in my case, to match the one ruffle on the skirt) that gets longer toward center back, a triple pleated bertha that has a swoop towards center front rather than being straight, and a big trim thing right at the center (in my case, a rosette to match the skirt, rather than a bow). It’s pretty hard to see the front of my dress in these pictures I’ve shared so far, but there are some coming up in the next two posts which will show off the front of the gown better, so stay tuned for that!

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A costume from the movie Il Gattopardo (1962, costume design by Piero Tosi). It’s lovely, despite the fact that it is not an extant gown from the 1860s.

While getting dressed we might have been making silly faces for the camera while the owner walked away…

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Haha! Moose making companion! In case you don’t know, this is my favorite silly face to make. Don’t believe me? Look here and here!