Edwardian Chemise + Other Unmentionables

I decided that I’ll probably be going to an event next summer that would be a great excuse for making a full Edwardian daywear outfit. And since I have almost a year and I’ve been wanting to make a suit with an Eton jacket (probably in navy blue) for a while, I’m embarking on sewing the full thing from the skin out (as I have no actual Edwardian pieces at all). If I complete about one garment per month, I’ll be in good shape and shouldn’t feel too rushed.

First up: the chemise. I used the chemise in Truly Victorian’s TVE02 for this with no modifications. My decorations are pintucks, ribbon, and eyelet lace. For I think the first time in my life, I made this entirely out of materials from my stash! (Note to self: Always buy large amounts of cotton lawn when you need to restock–it will always be used!)

(Left: front. Right: back.) I appreciate that the pattern has you neatly enclose all raw edges. Though I’m guessing it assumes you’re using lace with a finished edge on both sides and since mine was not finished on one side I ended up using self-made bias tape on the armholes.

No photos of me actually wearing the chemise since it’s, um, pretty see-through.

I’ve also completed these mysterious items:

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That’s a hip pad and bust forms from TVE01. I honestly have no idea how the bust forms are supposed to be worn and the pattern gives you no clue; guess I’ll figure that out once I’ve got the corset going??

Speaking of . . . Next up is the corset! Then I’ll be doing a combination, skirt, shirt, and the jacket. And I should really decorate a nice big hat to complete the whole outfit.

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Nahant Victorian Dance Weekend 2016

Hey, it’s my second dance getaway in one summer! This was three days in Nahant, MA, and costuming events included an evening party with informal dancing on Friday, a Belle Epoque ball on Saturday, and a concert/tea on Sunday. (That was followed by a promenade, but we had to scurry off early so I could catch a train back to New York that evening.)

Since we decided to go to this rather late, I concentrated on the two evening events and used some items I already had on hand…but since I’d been dying for an excuse to make late-Victorian evening dresses, I still couldn’t resist doing most of two new ensembles. (Fortunately, my Regency chemises worked fine under the gowns; when I have more time I’ll have to do up proper undergarments! And I just stuck with the same late-Victorian corset all three days.)

Friday evening I did 1880s bustle!

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(Why are my eyes closed in this otherwise lovely photo?!) The bodice is the TV464 Cuirass Bodice, with a hook-and-eye front closure instead of buttons. The overskirt is the Wash Overskirt, and everything else I fortunately already had (TV101 bustle, TV170 petticoat, TV261-R underskirt).

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Had to attempt the awkward corset lean:

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For the Belle Epoque ball, I moved forward in time to the 1890s.

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Sadly, this is the ONLY photo I have of me wearing the finished dress! I’m still hoping one of the many people taking photos at the ball posts them sometime….

For this ensemble, I made the 1890s petticoat from TV170, the Laughing Moon #103 1890s Waist (and stuffed those giant sleeves with tulle!), and Past Patterns #208 Circular Skirt. Here’s a photo of the back that I posted on Instagram while it was a work in progress, since that’s where all the action is in the skirt.

For both the bodices, I pretty much ignored the bodice construction instructions and instead followed all those tutorials at HistoricalSewing.com that I listed before. So the insides ended up looking like this.

Neat. Just for completeness, here’s Day 3’s outfit:

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The only things I made in this photo are the underpinnings. (I did swap out the grosgrain ribbon on the hat, but I don’t think that “counts.”) The skirt is an antique walking skirt that was given to me (yes, I’m very lucky!) and the shirt is just a modern button up.

I left the weekend inspired to get to work on even more Victorian costumes, but I’ve got a lot of other stuff on my plate before another Victorian event comes around!

Pinewoods 2016

A few weeks ago I attended Pinewoods Scottish Session II; it was my first time at Pinewoods and I had lots of fun! In addition to some practice clothes, I made two special-occasion outfits especially for camp. The first is this dress, which I wore to the Highland ball.

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(Please ignore the sneakers.) Okay, it’s not very ball-gown-y, but since it was made of embroidered cotton lawn it was very comfortable in the extremely humid weather. And it has a surprise on the back:

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What you can’t tell from these photos is that the skirt is also delightfully swirly (I’m wearing a ruffly petticoat underneath).

The dress began with the bodice block that was fitted to me during the Workroom Social Dressmaking Intensive, which I modified by moving the zipper to to the side, adding ribbon loops to the back side seams for lacing (there’s also a bit of elastic at the waist in the back panel to keep the skirt from sagging there), lowering the neckline, and replacing the sleeves with flutter sleeves. The skirt is a long half-circle skirt, gathered at the waist.

The second special-occasion outfit was for the themed ball–the theme this year was “Under the Big Top.” Naturally, I just shoehorned this into my interest in Victorian costuming and dressed as a steampunk circus performer (ring leader?).

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(Ugh, this is the best front photo I have, sorry!) I already had the mini top hat and shirt, so I made the bloomers (from this YouTube tutorial), bustle (just the back part, shortened, of Truly Victorian’s Wash Overskirt), and corset (the long view of TV’s Victorian Corselets, but constructed following regular corset methods, including adding a front busk).

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The hair falls are just yarn looped over hairbands (in what is apparently called a lark’s head knot), which are then slipped around buns.

So there you have it: two very different looks for Pinewoods 2016!

1880s Riding Habit (Kind Of)

This project was, admittedly, 90% an excuse to make an 1880s dress and 10% shoehorned into something geeky so I could wear it to an NYCC party (I would ask if you can guess what I am, but admittedly it’s very hard to tell from these blurry photos!). Here are a couple of inspiration photos:

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Selika Lazevski, 1891 [source]
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Woman’s Suit, ~1900 [source]

Okay, if I had really made a riding habit, I wouldn’t be wearing a bustle. But, c’mon, why make an 1880s dress if you aren’t going to wear a bustle?! (Unless, I guess, you’re actually going to ride a horse in it.)

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(I’m sorry I don’t have any really good photos of the outfit being worn! I’m terrible about remembering to take a bunch from different angles.)

Anyway, here’s what I’m wearing, from the skin out:

The (under)skirt was pretty easy to make, with only four pattern pieces (front, sides, back, waistband). I departed from the instructions/pattern in four ways: (1) it’s flatlined (front and sides with broadcloth . . . then I ran out of broadcloth, so the back is lightweight muslin); (2) I used a 3-inch hem facing (a strip of lightweight bias-cut muslin) rather than turning up the hem; (3) I formed the placket using this method; and (4) I added a pocket to the right side-back seam (YES, POCKET! The BEST!). I was a little worried about the bouffant since I hadn’t done something like it before and didn’t have a dress form to drape it on, but I just followed the instructions exactly and I think it turned out great.

I’d say this pattern is good and basic, and most of my changes/additions were just due to my preference, not necessarily issues with the pattern. My fashion fabric (cotton sateen) was already pretty heavy and underlining it made the whole thing VERY heavy, so that might not have been the wisest choice. (Incidentally, I did make a petticoat for this costume, but didn’t end up using it because the skirt was so heavy and the petticoat is a filmy sheer cotton. Whenever I get around to making something where I’ll be using it, I’ll try to remember to blog about it!)

The jacket pattern, however, has some difficulties. There’s at least one error on the pattern pieces (it says to cut two of the lapels from your fashion fabric, but you need four), and I found the instructions hard to understand and possibly incomplete. I felt like I was missing a page! Fortunately, I’ve made several jackets in the past, so I knew basically what I was doing. And even more fortunately, Historical Sewing has a TON of great instructions on Victorian bodice construction, which I relied on heavily (in addition to all those skirt tutorials linked to above!). If you’re delving into this one, I highly recommend the following posts:

I also referred to Gertie’s Lady Grey Sew-Along for general tailoring/jacket instructions. There doesn’t seem to be a handy index to the sew-along, but that link goes to the first tailoring entry and you can find the rest by browsing the blog archives for the days after it.

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As you can see, I didn’t line the jacket, which made it slightly more difficult in some ways. (Figuring out the “lining facing” piece was a puzzle–still not sure if I have it right!) I ended up only using hair canvas and pad stitching in the lapels because I didn’t have time to do the collar, too. The bottom is hemmed with bias tape.

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One big thing that was missing in the jacket documentation was what to wear under it. Would it have been a full shirt? (If so, what kind? I haven’t come across a lot of Victorian women’s shirt patterns.) Some kind of dickey-like garment? And what about a cravat/tie/ascot?

I didn’t want to add the bulk of a full shirt (and would probably have had to buy one anyway since I didn’t have time to research and sew something new for this event), so I wore my Regency chemisette (from Sensibility Patterns’ Regency Underthings) just to give myself some kind of collar. I wonder if it would be at all accurate to make this up in a shirting with a button closure for the next time?

I figured since this is influenced by menswear, you’d surely add neckwear. I confess, the thing I wore was in no way historically accurate (it came off a RTW gothic lolita shirt I already owned), but, hey, that leaves me something to make for the next time I wear this outfit, right? I think I’ll be going with an ascot.

I did think the fitting instructions in the pattern were pretty good and I made almost no adjustments once I’d determined what sizes to cut out (thank you, corset, for standardizing my body shape). I did end up with a couple of snafus in the sleeves, but that’s mostly on me (and honestly I think it looks fine anyway).

Oh, also, the pattern says this fits over a “moderate-sized” bustle (whatever that means), but I kind of wonder if that’s really the case? I think the boning in back goes down a little too far and pushes into the top of the bustle. I could be wrong, though–or maybe this is an adjustment I need to make for my own personal shape.

Anyway, despite all that, I am actually really happy with the way it looks! There are a few things I’m planning to change before the next time I wear it, but they’re mostly additions rather than fixes. And now that I’ve made one complete Victorian outfit, I’m feeling pretty confident about making more in the future. Bring on the balls!