The Purple Plaid Dress
1838 - 1842
I more or less made this dress on a whim, and it started this entire historical sewing adventure. I picked up the pattern, Butterick B5832, at a pattern sale. The fabric I found at the Heritage festival last year. Making this dress was a learning experience and I loved it! Once the dress was done I also made a cloak and bonnet to complete the ensemble. Then I had to fix the bonnet so that it would actually stay on my head!
1840's Fan-Front Dress
I found a queen-sized sheet at a thrift store and decided it would be the perfect fabric for a historical dress! After hanging onto it for several months I decided that I wanted to turn it into an 1840's fan-front dress, a style I really admired from the Jane Eyre movie. I sized up a pattern from Janet Arnold's Patterns of Fashion 1, then completely handsewed the dress. It took a while, but I finally finished the dress in time for the last challenge of 2015 Historical Sew Monthly, the re-do challenge.
The Civil War Ball Gown
1862 - 1865
After I finished (and blogged) my Purple Plaid Dress, a woman I knew from church offered me this dress, well pieces of it at least. She had bought all the materials and started this dress several years ago, but then didn't have time to finish it. So she gave me all the supplies she had to make it. The pattern is Simplicity 2881, and the dress is made of crape-backed satin. I loved getting to make this dress! It was a new and challenging experience, and the finished product was definitely worth the time! A huge thank you to the original seamstress! Once the gown was done I completed the look by making the accessories, a headdress, lace mitts, and a pair of stockings.
While I was making my Ballgown I decided I wanted a day bodice to go with the skirt. After a lot of research I decided to make a wool Garibaldi blouse out of some grey wool from my stash. I adapted Simplicity 4551 to use as my pattern and decorated my Garibaldi with chain stitch embroidery. After working on it on and off for months I finally finished it for the Historical Sew Monthly "Pattern" challenge.
Blue Paisley 1890's Dress
I needed to make a dress that resembled 1890's fashions for a costume, so I decided to just make a full 1890's dress for said costume! After spending some time looking at existing blue cotton dresses from the 1890's I decided on the style I wanted and made my skirt pattern. Finding the fabric wasn't easy, but eventually I decided on an extra wide lightweight blue paisley quilting cotton. I adapted a couple of 1980's blouse patterns from my stash to make the bodice, which is flat lined and boned for historical accuracy and extra stability. I finished the dress in time to wear it to my event and I submitted it as an entry for the Historical Sew Monthly "Pattern" challenge.
This sunbonnet I made for 2015 Historical Sew Monthly. It was the first challenge I actually managed to complete, and one of the first items I made without a commercial pattern to start from. It's copied off an original 1850's (or late 40's) slat bonnet.
My blue 1890's dress required a hat to complete the look, so I made this one, based on several fashion plates from the late 1890's, for the 2016 Historical Sew Monthly "Historicism" challenge. I dyed and re-shaped an existing straw hat then decorated it with feathers, flowers, and taffeta.
Almost as soon as I started researching historical costuming, I realised the importance of good undergarments! These are the foundation of the dresses, and it's impossible to look properly victorian without them. So my chemise, drawers, and corset were my first truly historical sewing projects. Along with those I have also made stockings and several petticoats.
Since my pink corset was a bit big, I decided to make myself a second corset, a gold one. I used Simplicity 2890 and found a pillow sham of the gold color I wanted. I got the corset itself put together in under a month (even with attempting embroidery for the first time), and I'm now working on flossing the corset to add strength to the boning channels.
Unfortunately my gold corset wound up not being as comfortable as it should have been. I wore it a couple times then decided I was done, I would not be wearing that corset again. This meant I needed another corset in less than two weeks. I used Simplicity 1139 and made my corset out of some burgundy sateen and a cotton sheet in my stash. From mock-up to completion, this corset only took a week and is quite comfortable!
When I decided to venture into the regency era I knew I needed a corset to achieve the right silhouette before I could start on anything else. So after a bit of research I decided to make this wrap corset. I got it all handsewn in under a week!