The Purple Plaid Wool 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 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.
1855 - 1865
I became mildly obsessed with 1840's, 50's, and 60's wrappers over the summer of 2018, so, of course, I decided I wanted to make one. I found a bolt of brightly colored cotton calico on clearance at Joann's, picked out a green striped cotton for trim, and decided to use Butterick B5831 as my base pattern. In a mad rush to finish all the costumes, I made the wrapper in one weekend November 2018 so my sister could wear it (over the pink and lace ball gown) as her "Caroler Costume" for a production of A Christmas Carol in December 2018.
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.
Pink and Lace Ball Gown
Ever I began making historical clothing I've loved this pink ball gown and dreamed of re-creating it. Finally, after about 4 years of saying "someday. . ." I had an excuse to make it - and the fabric! After tracking down the original dress, I began my recreation, using a pink moire fabric and ivory net lace. The bodice was the easy part - but it needed the neckline trim, called the Bertha, to really be complete! The skirt was made to fit over a huge hoop skirt, and trimmed with swags of lace and moire bows. The finished dress was worn by my sister in a production of A Christmas Carol in December 2018.
While I was making my purple ball gown 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.
1890's Liberty of London Tea Gown
1890 - 1895
This one came about all because of re-reading Harry Potter. I decided that a late Victorian tea gown must be similar to the wizard's robes in the books. I found a tea gown I wanted to recreate, picked up some fabric in Malaysia, and brought my idea home with me. The pattern was found in "59 Authentic Turn-of-the-Century Fashion Patterns", and I used apportioning rulers to draft it. A few mockups were required to get the fit just right, but before long I was cutting out and sewing up my tea gown. The end result is everything I hoped it would be - an 1890's Professor Minerva McGonagall Costume! Suitable for both historic events and anything I may need a Harry Potter world costume for.
A full photo gallery (plus a bonas album showing how to put on the gown) can be found on my Facebook page!
1890's Aesthetic Gown
After months of offering to make my mom a historical gown, she finally picked out a Liberty of London Aesthetic Gown for me to recreate for her. Together we chose a lovely red linen for the dress itself and a net lace, which I tea-dyed, to embellish the sleeves with. This dress required a lot of hand sewing, but I finished it in under a month for my mom to wear in a play! Once it was done, we got some beautiful pictures of it at a historic house in town.
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.
1890's Everyday Wear Skirt and Shirtwaist
1896 - 1899
I made an 1890's wool skirt for an actress in a play, and once the play was over, I got it back. So, I re-sized the skirt for myself, and added pockets to make it more practical. Once the skirt was fixed up for me, I picked out a shirtwaist to make to go with it, draped the pattern, then made the shirtwaist - hand sewing every buttonhole! Finally, I made a velvet belt to complete the outfit.
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.
I decided to make an apron for the Historical Sew Monthly 2018 challenge "Comfort at Home", as I decided I would be a lot more comfortable wearing my costumes for different things if I had a nice big apron to protect them from getting dirty. The pattern is sized up from an original 1888 pattern found in the "National Garment Cutter". The apron works especially well with my 1890's outfits.
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 wore it with a steampunk inspired Zelda costume.
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!
1798 - 1820
White Drop-Front Gown
1798 - 1806
Thanks to Jane Austen's books, I'm pretty sure every historical costumer has made at least one regency era dress, so here's mine - a white "muslin" drop front, gown. The white on white striped sheer cotton was a Walmart find, which just screamed "turn me into a regency dress!" The pattern was sized up from Janet Arnold's "Patterns of Fashion I", and altered to fit my taste based of dresses shown in "Costume in Detail" by Nancy Bradfield. The dress was completely handsewn, slowly, over a period of several months.
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!
Since the regency era waistlines sit up so high, the petticoats need a little help staying up as well. Thus, petticoats would either be held in place by shoulder straps, or bodices. I opted to make a petticoat of the bodiced variety to go under my white drop-front regency dress.