Wednesday, June 9, 2010

antique men's cravat / ascot neckwear

Interesting find in the gold country last weekend. Completely handsewn with dip for the chin and hole for wrapping around. One side 3" longer than the other to allow for tying.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

smocked 1815 gown 2

Wanted this one to be wearable without regency stays so i'd be more likely to get out to events.

smocked 1815 gown

Inspired by cast off curtain fabric of my mom's and page 46 of Nineteenth Century Fashion In Detail. Decided to smock it in green since had some green stuff for a spencer jacket.

Friday, May 21, 2010

mid century dress 1

Gown made entirely from materials I had on hand ~ pics of piping going on, and the usual flat-lining with extra fabric in the side seam for easy alteration.

mid century dress 2

To keep myself interested, i'm playing with shapes at the bottom. In the 1850s there was a fashion for bodices with vest points but the back tail is found on 1870s+ gowns and isn't what I think of for the era i'm going for here.

mid century dress 3

Finished enough for first wearing in 10ish hours. Vintage trim basted on along with fairly rotted lace doubled in half and stitched together so doesn't show damaged areas much at sleeve and collar. The fabric is an odd drapey raw silk/cotton/rayon leftover from the tie manufacturing industry and sold at $1.50/yd and 25" wide.

Monday, April 26, 2010

cheap hat to bonnet

Cheap art store straw hat turns into 19th century bonnet to cover up my short bob haircut. 1) chopped off part of brim. 2) used straw hat making yardage (you can find this online) and machine stitched it to cut edges. 3) sewed ribbon to points so that i could steam the hat into shape. you can put the whole hat in a pot of hot water and let it dry with the ribbon tied to give it the right shape. it holds the shape it dries with if you don't have a steamer. 4) decided wasn't long enough on sides, added straw pieces and hid seam with ribbon 5) added trim.

Sunday, April 25, 2010


Done enough for wear and a funky bonnet made out of straw yardage too. Matchy-matchy bonnets aren't optimal, but i'm excited to have something done. Total was 16 hours, 4 of which were optional trimming hours. This doesn't include patterning anything but sleeves since had existing bodice pattern that i'd used before.

you might notice that all the bottoms of the skirt ruffles are selvage so didn't have to hem. whee!


Playing with trimming stage. This can go on even after i've worn a gown a few times.

The remaining fabric after bodice is complete determines what kind of skirt i can make. In this case there's tons left so a 3 tier ruffled skirt is possible.

The skirt is not pleated. i use a serger to gather my 3 tubes and sew them onto a piece of muslin at the right heights and add a waistband.

In thinner fabrics like these 2 silks, when the ruffles overhang each other, i find the look convincing enough to skip painstaking cartridge pleating.

The bodice and skirt waistband will need to hook together on each side so the waistband doesn't show when i raise my arms. The hoop skirt is best for 1856 onwards but I make most of my Vic era skirts at least 150 inches around so they CAN fit my smaller hoop skirt if I don't want the laundry of petticoats.

trim + collar

Deciding on collar and trimming. In this case collar is problematic to my eye but wearing it may bring inspiration.

The store bought black trims I tried seemed too stark and there wasn't enough of the orange shot silk on the bodice so I started playing with fabric to see what interesting self-fabric trim might emerge.

Failed attempts end up on hats or in the trash. In this case I made a bunch of fringe by pulling threads out of the fabric and then looking in the wastebasket at all the threads made me want to make tassels from the debris.

sleeves going on back

Shot of the back as the sleeves are going in.


I pick some sleeves and sew them in along the armpit leaving the shoulders open. Then i try it on again and pin in the shoulders for optimal look and mobility.

I often do trim on the sleeve while it's flat and THEN sew the sleeve into a tube. In this case I threw in some fake smocking for kicks. Can't say i have any references for this sleeve but it looks fun and era-reminiscent which is what i shoot for in these quickie gowns.

The research stage before making a gown can be an enormous time sink and when I need to GET IT DONE I just wing it. After i've worn a gown a time or two I may have changes to make, but I've made it easy to adapt so that's not a such a big deal.


Here's what it looks like after the previous steps and piping the bottom. This one has a funky tab front just for fun.

side seam trick

This is what I mean about how to finish the side seam so it is easy to make larger in the future.

closure and fitting

Buttons and button holes or back closure put in so i can adjust any seams to fit me.

I put the bodice on INSIDE OUT (over whatever support garments i intend to wear) and pin mostly just the bust dart(s) to fit since the rest were worked out in a good pattern. Once pinned, I draw a line on both sides of the dart to sew along.

After making any adjustments I try it on right side out to be sure i like the fit.

sew together

All the pieces sewn together. In this case i've included piping to several seams. I always leave the side seams OPEN at the bottom such that I can pipe the bottom edge ready to make the bodice larger in the future.

start the dress

Here's a basic mid-century bodice being made my quick way: designed on the fly, flat lined and hustled together to decent effect.

Decided to use 2 fabrics from my stash that I dislike so throwing them together may improve both if I play my cards right. The orange fabric does NOT match the plaid. It is shot with bright yellow and electric red but neither color is in the plaid. Bad color combos (by 1950s standards) CAN really add interest.

First, pieces cut out in fashion fabric AND a sturdy backing fabric and stitched together as one.