Monday, June 25, 2012

Rob's 1850s Victorian Day Dress

1859 Pagoda Bodice            I'm building a Victorian day dress.  Lisa and I thought we'd do 1840's but the more we researched, the more 1850s we became. I'm using the Truly Victorian pattern for the 1859 agoda bodice.  Here's the material and ribbon.  The solid pink will be used for bias piping/binding in a color called dusty rose.  The ribbon is trim, called dusty rose but it's a bit more orange.

 Here's the bodice back with the piped seams. Neat!  Except I forgot to "dive" the piping into the seam lines the first time and had to go back and re-do it. I've built the bodice, interlining it with silk organza, just because I'd read about it and wanted to see how it handled.  It's a bitch, wiggling everywhere when you cut it no matter how many pins you put in.  I ended up just sticking the pattern on it and cutting wide all the way around because of the shifting.  I then stay-stitched it to the fashion fabric, then trimmed it.  This will be lined in plain white muslin.  Here's the inside of the bodice with bone casings, waiting for the bones. Below you see my bone drying rack.  After I hand filed the ends, I sprayed them with silicone spray.

Pagoda sleeve lining
Sleeves with trim and piping, read for hand stitching

Here is the big ole skirt with all the plaids beautifully lined up.  Huzzah!  Below are trim ideas.  I went with two sets of trim spaced further out because.... it's a big ole skirt! I used a panel from the Truly Victorian Ballgown skirt  but only lengthening one panel as a pattern, really just a trapezoid.

Fashion plate, 1854, the Lady’s Companion 
Here's the inspiration for my sleeves. I need to find some lace. Most plate I've seen show engageants or under-sleeves that are closed.  I need the air circulation cuz it'll be hot in August and I'll be dancing in this sucker!

Now I have to have another bodice fitting with Lisa for the final final and because I messed up a bit. You see, I made the piping, then sewed the bodice, but forgot to move the needle back into position, so my seam are 3/4" instead of 5/8".  I'm hoping that I have enough room in the side seams for that to be fixed, but if not, I'll have to rip and resew.  Pray for me.

 I made the waistband and finished the sewing the trim on the skirt. The remainder of the sewing will have to wait until I choose skirt supports - either the existing cage crinoline or the new corded petticoat, so the skirt is now "on hold". Lisa and I have scheduled a bodice fitting for next week, so the bodice is on hold. Onward to cording and Renwear!

Addendum: Worked on cording yesterday and FELT as if I was making progress, but when I check the time, found I'd used 3 hours to mark and sew only 10 lines of cording.  I've now decided that the skirt will be fit to go over the cage crinoline because, at this rate, I'll never get this petticoat AND the Renaissance stuff done in time. The corded petticoat is hereby relegated to the back burner nad my dress leaps forward in time to 1856+, when the cage crinoline was patented.

Update: Decided to get the petticoat all marked first and am still not done drawing chalk lines! It doesn't help that, with a broken foot healing, I can only stand on it for short periods.  Mark with chalk, ice foot, mark with chalk, ice foot. Ugh! Tedium comes in all fashions.

Blogged about our fitting progress here: Marathon Fitting

Progress report: After the Marathon Fitting session, I re-sewed the back seams. Because I was taking it in even more, the piping was too short, so I had to cut new piping.  This means that I will have to make additional piping to go around the bodice edges as this time I'd actually only made just enough instead of the usual 6 extra yards of just-in-case piping I made last time.

I piped the sleeve/shoulder join, taking the cord out of the piping at the armpit area. Hmmm.  This makes for a very unforgiving armhole.  I've hand basted everything in, and yes, it took me two tries to get the sleeves even and with a good distribution of fullness (the first time I ended up with a wad of material by the shoulder blade which looked terrible!). I panicked when I tried the bodice on and it didn't fit, but remembered I didn't have my corset on, so of course it doesn't fit right!  There's no getting around the fact that a dropped shoulder limits your arm mobility. Evidently that's the way it was, from my readings, to keep a woman's motions "demure".  On the previous Vic bodice, I changed the armhole and ended up with a modern shoulder.  This time I'm determined to get that period look.  If that means I can't raise my arms then so be it.  The bodice is looking very nice, but there is still a lot more fullness in the sleeve than the pattern drawing shows.

 I've now finished everything except the bodice closures.  Everything is taking longer than I thought! I also discovered that the reason I was struggling with hand sewing was that my needles sucked.  Once I grabbed a good needle from the cushion, the struggling ended.  I threw those other crappy needles away so I won't pick them up again!

I took 12 yards of thin silk ribbon and 6 yards of 1" wide silk ribbon and played with dye.  It took me several tests to get what I wanted.  Now I will sew the ribbons together to make a larger "striped" ribbon to decorate the bonnet.  Silk feels so wonderful but ironing ribbon is tedious. Dharma Trading has a good selection of woven silk ribbon
After I'd finished dyeing the ribbons, I threw the dye out then remembered:  I still have frogs to dye!  So I mixed up another batch and threw in 8 frogs. I got these at Cheap Trims . 

The frogs are ecru and took up a lot more dye than the ribbons, but I'm leaving them as is.

I got a few frou frous from Hats by Leko. Here's a pic of some vintage berries I bought earlier.

I'm not going to line the bonnet, just decorate it (I can always line it later but I'm pressed for time right now) I've attached the ribbon ties and crown ribbon and had the crown ribbon cross over in the back. I tried making some flowers, but the silk is floppy, so I need to figure out some other way to use the ribbon. Stay tuned.

While waiting for the day of the final fitting, I was wondering what to do with my hair. See, I chopped it all off in a sort of 1920's bob several months ago and am now growing it back out. I can just barely make a pony tail.  This will not look period appropriate, yet I don't want to wear the full wig I wore for Dickens Faire because August is HOT here. Instead, I found this at It's a sort of drawstring bag/comb combination and should be enough for a stylish little chignon. "Why do I want a hairpiece if I'm wearing a bonnet?", you might ask. Because I know I don't want to dance in a bonnet!

Note: Got the hairpiece and it is BROWN! The color description mention red tones, but it is brown, so I'm sending it back and ordering one that mentions strawberry blonde in the description. They looked similar on two different monitors, but I guessed wrong.

Parasols: Lisa and I didn't want to spend big bucks on parasols, so we opted for those Chinese jobs. Yes, those types of parasols weren't popular until around the 1870s, but we've decided we are very forward thinking types with well-traveled connections who brought us back these little gifts. I found a used carved wooden cane at a flea market and had S.O. attach the parasol to it. That way I won't have to hold my arm so high all the time.  It came out pretty cute.

Lac for the sleeves:  After torturing myself with experimentation, Lisa gave me some lace and just said "sew it on, you are running out of time". Which I was, which I did. Mischief managed, it is done and looks good. May not have time for a lace collar, though....

HOOK & EYE TORTURE! I sewed on a bunch of hooks to the top without noticing that the package gives you a choice of looped eye or bar eye, but only half as many as there are hooks. So I went on to the next package and found I'd bought one size up! OK, I replace the smaller hooks with bigger hooks and sew them all on, yet I am minus one hook/eye for the neck closure in "stainless steel" color, so I dive into the stash for black and find out my black ones start the next size up!  So I have three different sizes of hooks and eyes on this bodice. I am terrible at this.  I've read many articles on how to sew these suckers on neatly. I follow the directions and I still can't get them to look tidy. Here's a great Threads article if you should feel inclined to find out how to sew them on properly:

I should be finished with the three frogs today so the outfit will be wearable, even if it is not "finished".

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