Sunday, 7 October 2018

1884 Plaid Day Dress with Antique Lace

Truly Victorian #460 for the Bodice;
Truly Victorian #423 for the Sleeves;
Truly Victorian #263 for the Skirt;
Truly Victorian #365 for the Overskirt.

Fabrics: The plaid fabric is a high-thread count cotton flannel, the sort used for men's shirts. It is lighter than the cotton flannel one usually sees in baby blankets, and the weave it much more intricate (a lot of asymmetrical weaves in the larger stripes). The green fabric is a simple homespun cotton in pine green. The bodice lining is emerald green satin. The eyelet lace on the cuffs and collar are antique pieces I salvaged.

Neck................15.5" max
Upper Arm......15" max
Back Width......16"
Hem.................39" at front.

The Bodice

There are several alterations I highly recommend making to the TV460 bodice--or at least double checking to make sure you don't need them--but the most important is the allowance in the hip area. 

When taking your measurements for a Victorian bodice, it is assumed you will take them over your corset, chemise, and whatever other undergarments you will be wearing. However, your hip area will also end up being increased by the skirt and overskirt you end up wearing, in addition to your petticoats. The pattern doesn't seem to reflect this, so for me the hip allowance always ends up being too small (and if a long bodice doesn't fit well over your hip, it's a lost cause. The bodice will ride up up, causing puckers and a constant "Picard maneuver" tugging on the bodice hem.)

I added quite a bit of extra allowance in the hip, about 3.5" over all. Even if this is more than you need, remember...a larger hip just makes the waist look smaller, which can't be bad =)

As for the cuffs, I used a vintage eyelet lace I bought from an antique mart some years ago. I can't determine it's exact age, of course, but the cotton is tightly woven batiste and small, tightly embroidered white work that you just don't see anymore (Hell, some of this stuff just isn't be made any more, no matter how much you're willing to spend). I would place the cuff lace as no younger than the 1920s.

The cuff lace is gathered and bound to a separate edge, then slip-stitched to the sleeve lining inside. This way it can be removed for separate cleaning, or for use on a different bodice. Victorians rarely stitched trims inside their seams and hems as so many pattern today tell us to do. You would have to take a bodice apart to remove just trims, which would have made washing very difficult for them. 

The antique lace I used for the collar is easier to date. I salvaged it from a 1910s blouse I bought at that same antique mart. The blouse was a once gorgeous piece, but the body was just too far degraded to be saved, so I took what I could off it, included this heavily pieced eyelet lace. I used the same tightly woven batiste from the blouse to bind the bottom of the ruffle and create the collar.

The Over-Skirt

The "August" overskirt, as it's called, is pretty simple and gives the perfect silhouette if you do your undergarments correctly. The problem a lot of people encounter when using this pattern is that they don't wear suitably stiff or full petticoats--or they pull back the tie ribbons too much at the hem-- so the over-skirt ends up "cutting" into the skirt at knee level and creating this unattractive "giant pouch" shape.

This picture here ----------------------------------------------------------------------> which I made years ago when I first started making period clothing, should show you what I'm talking about.

I had the tie ribbons pulled back far too tightly at the bottom and not tightly enough at the middle. The side seam where you pleat the apron front should remain straight. If it starts to curve, you have the ribbons too tight. Also, the low "belly pouch" effect this ends up creating is not exactly the goal =P

This pattern calls for a placket on the left side and a closure with buttons or hooks/eyes. I decided to switch this up for a center back closure instead. I am a big fan of center back closures because they make it far easier for the waistbands to be adjusted to fit later on, should the wearing change size a bit. If you try to just overlap a side closure further for a smaller waist, you end up shifting the centers over and messing up the whole lay of the skirt.

For this plaid overskirt, I also lined the back panel with stiff netting. I highly recommend doing this, even if the fabric you're using is already "crunchy". The final effect is so much better (see below).

The Skirt

One of the things I like about the Imperial Skirt TV263 over the older TV261 is that the hem can be almost straight, which is easier to sew and easier to trim. Now, even at walking length (view A), the TV263 skirt has a curved hem at the center back to accomodate the added length of a bustle. You do not need this curved increase at all. In fact, I would recommend making the center back piece of this skirt straight the hem. The way in which the center back closure works creates a wide drape of fabric that hands down a good 8". This is more than enough to make up for the increased lift of a bustle. If you don't do this, the "walking length" skirt will drag behind you several inches, even over a large bustle.

I did my skirt in plaid homespun cotton, pine green, and added two 6" flounces at the hem.


1 comment:

  1. Just found your blog and learned so much from this one! Love the plaid and the green. Lace totally devine thanks for you hard work.