Monthly Archives: March 2015

Historical Clothing of the Late Nineteenth Century

… is the slightly ostentatious name they came up with for a program (actually, a series of programs, or workshops, or afternoons of hanging out) I am coordinating at the Marr Residence, a local history site, this spring. The first one is tomorrow afternoon (Sunday, May 22, 2015), the other two are the first and last Sundays in May.

I wanted to call it a "Victorian Sewing Bee."

I wanted to call it a “Victorian Sewing Circle.” This way sounds more educational, I guess. 😉

Like my poster?

I probably should have posted this sooner, although if I have five local readers who might even potentially drop by I’ll actually be a bit surprised. And frankly, I feel like a bit of a poser since I’m a long, long way from an expert on historical clothing or costuming. I’m justifying it to myself as a way to network and meet other people locally who might have an interest in historical sewing & costuming (and who may well know more than me.) And it’s my little way of “creating an event” to explore my interest in historical sewing and costuming, since I really don’t want to just make costumes that have no other function but to hang in my closet.

I do have a few hidden resources… like the Victorian Dress, and the rest of my mom’s antique clothing collection (plus a few lovely pieces in the Marr Residence collections) and reproduction catalogue collection. (I haven’t seen as much of the catalogue stuff around the webs, which is interesting… I feel like it gives a more day-to-day view of fashion than the fashion plates or even the period photographs.), and I’ll be there with my own project (I think it’s BUSTLE TIME), and some sewing basics should anyone else want to drop by and do some sewing, or just some hanging out and talking.

So yeah, um, those five of you who are in town (or is that three who’ll actually read this on a Saturday night, or one who might maybe have nothing better to do on a Sunday afternoon…) anyway, yeah, stop by!

I think it's cute, anyway.

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Remedial Corsetology II

Victorian Underoos

Victorian Underoos

I probably don’t need to say a lot here.

Back, with lacing.

First try-on.

I got lacing. (poly cord from Fabricland. Historically accurate? no. Functional? Absolutely.)

As Laurianna noticed in my last post, I forgot to allow space for boning outside of the back grommets. This is what I get for leapfrogging between different instructions, and not paying attention to details. I added some cording to the area for a bit of reinforcement (better than nothing?), but there is definitely some buckling along the lacing that could have been avoided. Lesson learned, hopefully to be applied next time. (Honestly, this is the kind of lesson I learn best from making mistakes. >_<)

Lacing grommets, cording, and bottom binding.

Lacing grommets, cording, and bottom binding.

I added self-bias binding along top and bottom, pulling it fairly tight to bring in the looseness along the bottom. I was a little worried halfway through that this would backfire and just look bunchy or lumpy, but it seems to be fine.

Lace flowers.

Lace flowers.

Since I had exactly five little lace flowers left over, I opted to add them to the front of the corset. I just cut them apart and  hand-tacked them down. I think they’re cute (though maybe not very Victorian with that random asymmetrical design. Ah, well. At this point I’m going for impression, not detail.)

Corset back. Lace job by the fourteen-year-old.

Corset back. Lace job by the fourteen-year-old.

The corset is, technically, a little bit big. The two-inch lacing gap I used in my try-ons disappears pretty much entirely without too much difficulty, and I think I could stand tighter lacing at the waist. (Despite the above photo. However, if I wait to take new photos with the lacing done a bit better, you may never get this post, so, wonky lacing it is.) I love how it flares out over my hips, though, and I love the shape it has around the bottom, even though it isn’t, strictly speaking, really long enough over the hips.

The bust isn’t exactly too small, but I think if it were a bit larger, and shaped a bit differently (i.e. more defined), it would look better. It is technically alterable, should I choose to unpick and re-stitch the seams and boning-channels, but I’m going to leave it for the moment, partly because I hate alteration and partly because I want to test how it feels when worn for more than a few minutes of trying-on.

Full view

Full view

I haven’t really talked much about the chemise, have I? (I covered the drawers here.)

Closeup, with chemise.

Closeup, with chemise.

I used the yoke piece from Simplicity 9769 (If I’d had this pattern when I first started the corset-testing I would probably have used it rather than Butterick 4254, as it seems to have somewhat better reviews, but anyway….) This is more of an 1860s pattern than 1880s but, well, I like it , so there. 😉 The rest I kinda offroaded, based on the instructions in The Home Needle and a fair bit of poetic license. I sewed up the yoke, with lace, fairly conventionally, but then I wound up taking the project with me to my mom’s family farm for a few family events over the winter, and while I can’t really run off to play with a sewing machine while I’m out there, I can definitely sit in the kitchen and hand-stitch and visit while everyone else around me cooks and cleans and does actual useful work. So the flat-felled seams of the main garment were all done by hand, as were the teeny little pin-tucks (facilitated by the woven-in stripe of the fabric, though they still aren’t perfect, which is fairly unforgivable given the stripe) and the lace-insertion.

A photo posted by Tanit-Isis (@tanitisis) on Dec 27, 2014 at 5:31pm PST

(Hmm. This attempt to embed from Instagram does not seem to be displaying on my browser. I will attempt to fix it when I get home. Sorry all!)

Full back.

Full back.

Then I got home and impatiently finished the hems using the teeniest rolled hem foot on my Pfaff. I love the teensyness of it, but kinda wish I’d stuck with the hand stitching just for, oh, I dunno, excessive old-fashioned-y-ness.

I think it's cute, anyway.

I think it’s cute, anyway.

I was pretty pleasantly surprised by how the look works all together. (OK, I think it’s cute, anyway.) I like the three together better than any of the individual pieces (well, except maybe the corset.)

Next up: the petticoat(s)! (OMG I might actually have to start thinking about the actual dress. (But not before I tackle bustles. Ooooh, scary!)

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