Saturday 15 August 2015

1880s Bridal Toilette - Harper's Bazar, March 1880

Patterns: From Harper's Bazar, March 1880. Reproduced in 1/8 scale in Fashions of the Gilded Age Vol. 2, by Frances Grimble.
Fabric: Heavy weight bridal satin, polyester.
Alterations Summary: The skirt back is only half the width of what the original pattern calls for. I decided not to do the jabot and high collar, but made a separate collar. Other smaller things too, which I will note below.
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Idon't make very many one-piece dresses, but the pattern for this one was too simple, yet attractive, for me to pass up. I did my usual grid paper enlargement. The dress is a fabric hog, however. Below you can see the pattern pieces from the book. The back width is so wide, just half of the piece is wider than I can get from a single piece of fabric. I don't see how one could get that width without piecing and adding seams. I ended up doing only half that width and then adjusting my pleats. NOTE: the 'cut on fold' symbol is my addition, not original to the text.

The easy formation of this dress has given my many ideas for minor alterations and future dresses.

The upper back comes to a sort of pleated tail, which is decorative and as well as necessary to hide all the pleat work on the back section of the skirt.

I didn't encounter any trouble with this pattern until it came time to deal with the pleats of the skirt back section. They are hidden under the peplum,but obviously must be "held up" in some way. In the usual way, this is to whip stitch them to the lining, but I didn't want to do that because of weight. Not only would it just be heavy on the lining in general, but it would have dragged down the peplum, which is supposed to be bouncy and puffy.

So, I ended up "lifting" the back skirt section by attaching a ribbon inside and stitching it to the waist belt. *See below, inside-out view.

 Next time I will do these pleats different. Chock this up to first time use of a pattern with virtually no instructions, as it seems to go with almost all antique patterns.

Another wonderful effect of the peplum is that it covers the skirt far down enough for me to stitch on a large hook/eye without the stitching being seen on the outside (the peplum covers them). Below you can see an inside view of the train held up. This feature was not part of the original pattern. I added it.

I did not take very many progress photos for this one because it's rather straight forward. No fancy pleating, no strangely shaped pieces. Just big long seams and standard horizontal pleats. As for the collar, I made that years before making this dress, using a Butterick costume pattern. The pattern had many problems, and I ended up altering it to the point that it doesn't bare mentioning construction on the original piece.

The pleated panel and sash. 
These items are accessories to the main dress and entirely removable. The panel going around the hips is simply a long piece, pleated up. Each end is bound and has ties attached. The pleats are held in place with ribbon stays hand tacked inside. Below is a pic showing the sash tied and hidden under the peplum. It must also be pinned at this point.

Wearing this panel is definitely an art. Putting it on alone is virtually impossible, so one would need help. There is a tiny ribbon loop at the center front which you hand over the bottom most button on the dress. This keeps the panel from just falling down.

*Below you'll see pics of the dress fully assembled, with accessories, and also picture with the dress plain. Also, pictures showing the train up and down. 

Below is the best view of the fake flower corsage I made. It's just two fake flower bundle pushed together, super glued, and wrapped with white silk. It's a funny art, making corsages.

  Below you can see the train pinned up.

Another view of the train hooked up inside.

Below is the dress "bare", with all accessories removed. If one were inclined, they could add colored accessories and trimmings to transform this wedding dress into evening wear.