Wednesday, August 30, 2023

My Crazy Paisley 1830’s Pelerine

 1830’s day dresses were often (mostly actually?) worn with little capes. These were called pelerines. 

They could be made of lace, or white work embroidery, or out of the same fabric as the dress.

This last option seemed to be the preference for cotton day dresses, like the one I made.

1832-35 Cotton Dress. Met Museum 2009.300.948a–c

The Met Museum dress that inspired my 1830’s dress had just such a matching pelerine, but I didn’t love the style of it. I wanted (needed?) a pelerine to go with my dress, but I didn’t want to replicate that one particularly. Instead I started looking at other cotton dresses and pelerines on Pinterest to find one I did want to replicate.

I fell in love with this one (from the Tasha Tudor Collection). I particularly liked the scalloped petal design over the shoulders. It was fun and interesting - and would be quite straightforward for recreate!

I started by drafting a fairly basic pelerine from a diagram in the Workwomen’s Guide.

Then I traced my pattern onto some linen, which I would be lining my pelerine with, and free hand drew the scallops. 

I used a Frixon pen, which could be ironed off later, and tweaked the scallops until I was pleased with them. Then I cut out the lining and used that as my pattern to cut the pelerine out of my orange paisley cotton.

I made a bunch of piping for the edges, and then machine sewed the pelerine, bag lining style. (Sewn right sides together around the edges, then flipped right side out.)

I finished the neckline with a bit of matching bias binding, and added a hook and eye for closure.

And with that it was done - a very quick project, even with drafting the pattern.

It adds just the right touch of authenticity to my dress.

And I love the piped scallops!

What the item is: 1830’s Pelerine

The Challenge: Neck and Shoulders - the pelerine covers the neck and shoulders and is worn over day dresses in the 1830’s

Material: Cotton paisley print, lined with linen

Pattern: The base pattern is from “The Workwoman’s Guide. I altered it to match the shape of an extant early 1830’s pelerine from the Tasha Tudor collection.

Year: 1832-1835

Notions: thread, hook and eye, cotton yarn for piping.

How historically accurate is it? The sewing techniques are mostly modern, it’s primary constructed by machine with just a bit of hand finishing. The shape, closure, linen lining, and printed cotton outer are all pretty good for the era, though the print isn’t absolutely perfect. It would be recognizable in the era for what it is. 50-60%

Hours to complete: 2-3, including patterning.

First worn: My sister’s birthday tea last August!

Total cost: The fabric was $3 a yard, and this took just over half a yard. I believe the linen was $6 a yard. The notions were all stash/ left over from previous projects. So $5-$10

Saturday, August 26, 2023

My Crazy Paisley Orange 1830's Dress

 As all I've blogged about this month is orange dresses, I decided I might as well continue the trend, and finally share the orange 1830's I made last summer:

Poofy sleeves, detailed bodice, cartridge pleated skirt, wild print. This dress has everything I love about the 1830's.

I acquired the fabric when it was clearanced at Wal-Mart about 5 years ago. (At the same time as I picked up the fabric for my sister's "bustle" dress.) 

It's not a perfect reproduction of an 1830's print, but the orange paisley gave the right feel. Roller printing became a thing in the early 1800's, and by the 1820's and 1830's, the prints were wild! Roller printing was considerably faster than block printing, and you could use up to 6 colors at a time, making detailed, colorful, prints fairly cheap and easily accessible.

Thus, when I picked up a bolt of this fabric for $3 a yard, I knew immediately that it was going to become an 1830's dress. I just needed to figure out the details.

Over the next few years, in between other projects, I perused cotton print 1830's dresses on Pinterest, saving specifically inspirational ones to this board
I wanted a dress with very puffy sleeves, and some sort of interesting detail on the bodice. I was aiming for early to mid 1830's. 

1832-35 Cotton Dress. Met Museum 2009.300.948a–c

By the time I was finally ready to cut into my fabric, I had it narrowed down to basically re-creating this dress from the Met Museum

I started with Butterick 5832, the pattern from my purple plaid wool dress, and the pattern pieces I'd altered to make my 1836 "Alice in Wonderland" evening gown the previous fall. 

I used the darted bodice lining pattern, raised the neckline to match my inspiration dress, and attempted to change the angle of the shoulder seams to be more historically accurate. When I tried the dress on for the first time after finishing it, I realized I completely failed at fixing the angle. Somehow I think I got it backward? Anyway, I was home sick when I started this project (which is why/how I actually had time to finally make this dress.), and clearly the fever I had affected my ability to figure out the correct shoulder seam angle. Thankfully, the rest of my pattern alterations turned out just fine.

Using the "slash and spread" method to add extra fullness, I altered the bodice overlay pieces to get the fun gathered detail from my inspiration dress. The outer bodice pieces were layered onto the bodice lining, edges were piped, and the layers were sewn into place. 

Any visible stitching was done by hand, but everything else was machine sewn. With the exception of setting the sleeves.

I drafted the full circle sleeves from The Workwoman's Guide - an 1838 publication that is now open source on the internet. It contains pattern diagrams for all sorts of 1830's things! 

The circle sleeve pattern is the fullest of the full - each sleeve took over a full yard of fabric! That's A LOT of fabric to gather into an armhole. I gathered it down using machine basting stitches, but then decided that thanks to the shear volume of fabric, hand sewing the sleeves into the armholes would be best.

I was able to use the row of machine stitches, from piping the armhole, as my seam allowance guide.

Speaking of gathering large volumes of fabric down, the skirt is made from 3 panels of 44" wide fabric. The bottom 12" or so is faced with a random quilting cotton from my stash.

I added inseam pockets on either side of the front skirt panel, and I left several inches of the center back seam open at the top to make a placket. The top edge of the skirt was then folded under a couple inches and cartridge pleated, using two rows of stitches.

The gathered up skirt was then whip stitched to a piece of twill tape, which was then whip stitched to the bottom edge of the bodice, under the waistband.

Hooks and eyes down the back, and the dress was done!

This dress took me about 3 weeks, start to finish.

And about two months after I finished it, I found an excuse to wear it.

My sister's birthday tea!

We set up a pretty table on the front porch, my grandma came over for the occasion, and my mom, sister, and I all used it as an excuse to dress up!

My sister in 1880's, my mom in 1840's (still not blogged, sorry!), and me in 1830's! All in yellow and orange!

After several years of dreaming about it, it's a lot of fun to now have this dress in my costume closet.

Now I just need to make a bonnet, some sleeve plumpers, and a few other accessories, before I wear it again. 

What the item is: 1830’s Cotton Dress
The Challenge: At the museum - I copied the bodice design of an 1830’s dress at the Met Museum
Material: Cotton Paisley print, white cotton lining
Pattern: Butterick 5832, heavily altered, with sleeves from the Workwomen’s Guide
Year: 1835-ish
Notions: thread, hooks and eyes, cotton cord for piping.
How historically accurate is it? The print isn’t perfect, it’s more inspired than exact. The construction is about 50/50 machine and hand sewn - internal construction done by machine, all visible stitching and finish work done by hand. The pattern is decent, but I didn’t get the shoulder seams quite right. The overall look is good, as is the order of construction, seam finishes, closures, and such. Somewhere between 50%-75% I think.
Hours to complete: I don’t even know. It took me about a month of a few hours snatched here and there.
First worn: For my sister’s birthday tea August 2022
Total cost: The fabric was $3 a yard, found on clearance several years ago. I used about 6 yards. $18 total. The lining was a thrifted sheet. I paid $4 for the sheet and I’ve used a little bit here and there for different projects. Less than $1 of sheet for this project. Pattern was left over from a previous project. Cotton yarn, thread, and hooks and eyes were stash/left over from other projects, but we can add a couple dollars for them. So in all I’d say right around $20, give or take for the materials.
I paid $40 for The Workwomen’s Guide, and this is the first project I’ve used that book for, so you can add it to the total of you’d like.

Saturday, August 19, 2023

Making the 1921 Valancy Stirling Snaith Dress

 Early in my “Valancy” 1921 dress project I found this early 1920’s sewing manual. I intended to read it through and construct my dress accordingly. Making it as “historically accurate” as possible.

Well, that didn’t happen. 

When it came to actually sewing the dress I didn’t take time to read the manual or bother trying to make sure my construction was accurate. I just sewed the dress intuitively, the way I would any sundress.

By the 1920’s sewing machines were common place, so my construction can’t be too far off base anyway, right?

First things first, I serged all the raw edges, because linen frays like nothing else. This is most certainly not a period accurate construction technique, but it saved my sanity, and a lot of time compared to other seam finishing methods.

From a 1/2 yard of pale blue cotton (snagged at the City Sewing Room) I made yards and yards of bias tape. After the pockets were inserted and the side seams sewn up on the skirt I bound the bottom scallops with the bias tape.

One side machine sewn on the front, then folded around and hand sewn on the back.

I did the same thing with the collar once I’d sewn up the shoulder seams.

Once all edges that needed to be bound were bound, I finished assembling the bodice, leaving the left side seam open.

Next came the fun part - butterflies!

So I can’t really say that the blue shapes on the front of my inspiration dress are butterflies, but I wanted butterflies on my version.

I started by making a butterfly template out of paper.

Then I laid the paper butterfly on my bodice to check the scale.

Satisfied, I cut 3 butterflies out of my remaining blue cotton, making them progressively larger for the skirt.

I fray-checked around the edges of the butterflies, and once that was dry, I laid out the skirt out flat to figure out proper butterfly placement.

The butterflies were then safety pinned in place so I could appliqué them on at my leisure once the rest of the dress was assembled.

Hilda, one of my “free range” goats, did her best to help me gather the skirt.

Before sewing the bodice to the skirt, the neckline and armholes needed to be finished.

I used some pretty vintage gingham bias tape I’d been hoarding.

Once that was done, the skirt was sewn to the bodice and all the finishing details could happen.

A placket was added to the left side opening, interfaced with a scrap of petersham ribbon.

Vintage snaps and hooks and eyes were pulled from stash to close the placket with.

I mostly used snaps, but some hooks and thread bars were added at strategic points to keep the snaps from potentially popping open. (I made this decision based off what the Quintessential Clothes Pen said in this post.)

This was actually the first time I’d ever used sew on snaps for my closures, and they weren’t as tedious to sew on as I expected them to be! (Thus, I used them on my Rilla Blythe evening gown as well!)

With all the edges finish that needed to be finished and the fastenings sewn on it was back to the butterflies! I used the blanket stitch and blue silk thread to sew all three onto the dress.

A real live butterfly actually came and kept me company while I was working!

(And this butterfly reminded me that I should have looked up butterfly pictures before making my butterflies, as I clearly got the proportions of the wings all wrong. Ooops. It was too late to fix that now.)

Once the butterflies were all attached, I outlined the bodies and made the antennas with a chain stitch out of the same blue silk thread.

And once that was done, so was the dress!

I paired it with a necklace and some bracelets made by the ladies I visited in Uganda a few years back. And a hat of course, which I decorated the night before the outing to complete the outfit.

And the following afternoon at the Art Museum I felt as pretty and elegant as could be in my new 1920’s dress!

I love the fit, and the style, and just everything about this dress!

I need to find more occasions to wear it! It’s “basic” enough I could wear it for some modern, everyday, occasion, but the right undergarments, accessories, and hat just take it to the next level of elegance. I’m not sure I want to wear it without all the extras!

I’m sure I will wear this dress plenty more, I’m just not sure when, where, or how I’ll style it next time.

Photo by @papagena1791
(Please excuse the fact that I apparently managed to sit in some dirty water earlier in the afternoon.)

For now I’m just satisfied that I actually managed to make a drop waisted 1920’s dress that I love! It feels like quite an accomplishment.

Photo by @papagena1791

What the item is: 1920’s afternoon dress

The Challenge: The State of Fashion: Make something for which the fashion was influenced by political situations happening at that time in history (ex: sumptuary laws, imports and tariffs, protests, conflicts or social movements.)

Post WWI and beginning with women gaining the right to vote in the US, the 1920’s were certainly an era of social change, and that was definitely evident in the fashion. Waistlines dropped through the decade, hemlines rose, and the fit became looser. My dress is certainly more conservative as it’s still worn over the undergarments of the previous decade, and the skirt is still nearly ankle length, but the style is that of the new decade.

Material: Linen, with cotton accents.

Pattern: Simplicity 5795 was used as the bodice base, altered for a more 20’s shape. The collar and skirt are my own.

Year: 1921

Notions: Thread, silk thread for embroidery, bias tape, snaps, and hooks.

How historically accurate is it? The overall look matched the fashion print that was my inspiration, so it’s good. Based on patterns and info I found online I believe my pattern is decent. I did not research the proper construction for the era, and the seams are finished by serger, so the construction isn’t particularly accurate. The materials are fine.

60%, maybe a bit more.

Hours to complete: I don’t know. I made it in about a week.

First worn: 6/3/23 for a trip to the art museum.

Total cost: $45 for the linen, everything else was stash, either gifted or picked up cheap secondhand. Definitely under $50 usd total.