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The drawing in Janet Arnold's "Pattern of Fashion 2".

The drawing in Janet Arnold’s “Pattern of Fashion 2″.

In the first part of this series, I concentrated on making the skirts of this early-1870’s gown. The skirts have such a nice drapery about them!

For this post I will be looking at the construction of the ballgown bodice. Ballgown bodices of this era often had short sleeves or were occasionally sleeveless. They were quite decorated around the bust and sleeve area, and often appeared to be almost off-the-shoulder.

Pattern

The pattern I am using is from Janet Arnold’s Patterns of Fashion 2. This particular gown has three separate skirts (the underskirt, the overskirt and the basque), as well as two bodices (the evening bodice and the day bodice).

I normally post pictures of all the pattern pieces, but I have found this gown slightly more complicated than others that I have done, so I suggest purchasing the book if you are intending to make this particular garment. Instead I have listed the pieces below:

  • Bodice front (cut 2, plus 2 lining)
  • Bodice back (cut 1 on fold, plus 1 lining on fold)
  • Bertha (left, right, front and back) (cut 4, plus 4 lining and 4 net)
  • Sleeve (cut 2)
  • Sleeve lining and gusset (cut 2 of each)
  • Sleeve band (cut 2)
  • Waistband (cut 1, plus 1 lining)

This garment was made from a printed striped cotton fabric and the lining was a white cotton broadcloth. The trims on the garment are made from a polyester shot maverick shantung.

I made a mock-up of the bodice first, just to sort out any fitting issues. I had to adjust the bertha quite significantly to fit it properly, and the waistline had to be enlarged.

Construction Steps

Step One: Once the pattern pieces were cut out, I mounted the outer fabric of the bodice pieces onto their corresponding lining pieces and treated them as one.

Step Two: I sewed the bodice side seams, then the front darts to fit. I sewed the shoulder seams.

The darts and side seams all sewn.

The darts and side seams all sewn. The shoulder seams are yet to be sewn.

Step Three: The bertha has an outer layer (cotton), lining layer (cotton) and inner layer of stiff net. There are four bertha pieces (front left and right, and back left and right), so altogether you should have cut out 12 pieces (four bertha pieces each in outer, lining and net).

Note: In the pattern the bertha pieces are all the same shape (for both front and back) but I had to adjust this in order for the garment to fit properly. My front and back bertha pieces, therefore, are different shapes.

I sewed each of these four bertha pieces to their corresponding layers (outer, net, lining layers) together on the upper edge.

The net sewn to the outer and lining pieces.

The bertha (front left piece) sewn to all its layers (outer, net, lining) along the upper edge. It is now opened up and pinned to the front right piece along the centre front.

You should now have four bertha pieces that are all attached along the upper edge. Now they need to be attached in the centre front and centre back. Do this by opening the pieces out and pinning right sides together at the centre front/back and sew.

Bertha is sewn at centre front and back.

The bertha is sewn at centre front (and likewise at centre back, not shown). Clip seam allowances and turn right side out and press.

The front and back bertha pieces are now sewn at the shoulder seams.

Step Four: The bertha can now be attached to the bodice. Match centre fronts and backs and shoulder seams. Sew the bertha outer layer (including the net) to the upper edge of the bodice (right sides together). Press the seam towards the bertha and turn the raw edge of the bertha lining under. Slip stitch it down.

The bertha is attached.

The bertha is attached. The bertha lining is being turned under and hand sewn down.

Step Five: Sew the sleeve seam. Gather the top and bottom edge of the sleeves (outer).

The sleeves are gathered top and bottom.

The sleeves are gathered top and bottom.

For the sleeve lining, slash the mark and insert the gusset. Sew the sleeve seam.

The lining sewn, showing the slash with gusset inserted.

The lining sewn, showing the slash with gusset inserted.

Mount the sleeve outer on top of the sleeve lining (wrong sides together) and pin. Attach the sleeve band, turning the excess to the inside and slip stitching the raw edges under.

The sleeve mounted on the lining and cuff strip attached.

The sleeve mounted on the lining and sleeve band attached. The raw edges of the sleeve band are pinned under and are ready to hand sew.

The sleeves can then be attached to the bodice.

Step Six: Attach the waistband to the bottom edge of the bodice.

Step Seven: Attach lace around the bottom of the sleeves and around the neckline. I used a 2 inch wide insertion lace. A thin cotton cord can be used to draw the fullness of the lace in so that the bodice does not fall down over the shoulders.

The front of the bodice, showing the cord lacing up the insertion lace at the front.

The front of the bodice, showing the cord lacing up the insertion lace at the front. The trim is also sewn down.

Step Eight: Make the trim (the same as is detailed in “the skirts” post) and attach it around the sleeve cuff, and around the bertha as per the diagram in Janet Arnold’s book.

Step Nine: Attach hooks and eyes down the centre front of the bodice. The centre front of the bertha meets edge to edge with the trim hiding the hooks and eyes, but further down on the bodice I created an overlap to more effectively hide the hooks and eyes.

The hooks and eyes sewn to fasten at the front. They are tucked behind a slight overlap in the fabric.

The hooks and eyes sewn to fasten at the front. They are tucked behind a slight overlap in the fabric.

Three waistband/trouser bars were also sewn to the back of the bodice waistband to correspond to matching hooks on the basque.

The back of the bodice, showing the hooks and bars sewn to attach the basque.

The back of the bodice, showing the hooks and bars sewn to attach the basque.

All finished! My dressmakers form is not the same shape as my corseted body but hopefully you get the idea.

The front

The front view

The back view

The back view

My last post in this series will be about making the day bodice for this ensemble. – stay tuned! For more information on my costuming, go to my Costumes page.

Related Posts

Making an Early 1870’s Gown: Skirts

Making a Victorian Corset

Sources and Relevant Links

Patterns of Fashion 2: Englishwomens’ gowns and their construction, by Janet Arnold – buy on Amazon

Setting a gusset – by Sempstress

Attaching a waistband – by Fashion Freaks (This tutorial is for a skirt, but the same principles apply.)

1871 ballgown – by Before the Automobile (See this beautiful version of this dress made by someone else!)

Making a “proper” Victorian bustle gown has been on my list to do for a while. For 15 years actually – ever since I first saw a lady dancing in one and marvelled at its drapery.

There were two distinct periods in history where bustles – in their most “Victorian” extreme – were used. The first was in the early 1870’s and the second was in the 1880’s. Elsewhere in history, bumpads of all sorts have been frequently used, but here I am talking about the much more prominent Victorian bottom enhancer.

The 1871-3 three-piece-gown described and patterned in Janet Arnold's book. (Photo found on Pinterest, from manchestergalleries.org,but I can't find the original entry.)

The 1871-3 three-piece-gown described and patterned in Janet Arnold’s book. (Photo found on Pinterest, from manchestergalleries.org,but I can’t find the original entry.)

From 1871 to 1873, gowns were remarkably similar. Gown ensembles were most often in two pieces; the skirts and the bodice. The skirts were gored (which made them nice and full) and often included an outer or overskirt that ended around the knees. This overskirt was generally pulled up in a polonaise-style over the bustle behind. For day bodices, the sleeves were not highly gathered around the sleeve head, but instead often flared out at the bottom, sometimes in layers, in a manner very similar to 1970’s pants! For evening bodices, the style was almost off-the-shoulder with short gathered sleeves.

The gown that caught my eye more recently was found in one of Janet Arnold’s pattern books, and I even had the material purchased and waiting patiently to be made up!

This particular post will deal with making the three skirt layers: the underskirt, the overskirt and the basque.

Pattern

I used the pattern by Janet Arnold, in her book Pattern of Fashions 2. I had to make several alterations to it so it would fit me. For the skirts, this included increasing the length of the underskirt, and increasing the waistline measurements.

The drawing in Janet Arnold's "Pattern of Fashion 2".

The drawing in Janet Arnold’s “Pattern of Fashion 2″. This gown ensemble is made up of a day bodice, an evening bodice, an underskirt, an overskirt, and a basque.

I normally post pictures of my pattern pieces, but this gown is quite complicated. If you are interested in making this pattern I suggest you either get Janet Arnold’s book or get a similar historical pattern to use.

I dont often bother making a mock-up of the skirts of a gown, so I got straight into sewing!

Construction Steps

The Underskirt

Step One: Sew the underskirt panels together, leaving an opening for the placket, which is on the seam to the left of the centre back. To make the placket, I just pressed the seam allowance open and top stitched around the placket edge.

Step Two: Janet Arnold’s pattern includes a pocket in the front left seam of the underskirt. I highly recommend putting one in! Mine is made from white cotton broadcloth, and set on an angle (facing towards the centre front) in the left seam. Make sure you make an opening big enough to fit your hand in, and that the pocket is big enough to hold your fan or any other item you feel is essential.

The pocket sewn on an angle in the seam. It is positioned ... from the waistband.

The pocket sewn on an angle in the seam. The top of the pocket opening is positioned 5 inches down from the waistband.

Step Three: Laying the two waistband pieces right sides together, sew around them, leaving an opening for to turn it in the right way. Turn it in the right way and press. Sew the opening closed.

Step Four: Neaten the upper edge of the underskirt, pleat and attach to the waistband. I laid the waistband on top and sewed through all thicknesses. (As compared to the normal method of sewing a waistband.) Attach hooks and eyes to the waistband for fastening.

You can see the top stitching on the placket opening, and also the topstitching on the waistband (which secures the pleated skirt). The hooks and eyes are also sewn on.

You can see the top stitching on the placket opening, and also the topstitching on the waistband (which secures the pleated skirt). The hooks and eyes are also sewn on.

Janet Arnold is not clear exactly how to attach the skirt to the waistband. She does indicate cartridge-pleating was used in the overskirt but does not state that this was also done on the underskirt. I initially cartridge-pleated the underskirt, but after it all unravelled at the first ball it was worn to, I decided to pleat it the second time around instead!

Step Five: Bind the lower edge of the skirt with matching bias binding. I cut my own bias strips and made binding that matched my trim.

Step Six: Sew the wide bias strips of flounce onto the bottom of the skirt, folding the raw edge under and sewing through all thicknesses. Attach trim to hide the seam. (See below for trim construction.) Sew binding to the bottom edge of the flounce.

The flounce has been applied to the skirt, and the trim hides where it has been sewn. You can see the two bound edges on the bottom of the skirt.

The flounce has been applied to the underskirt, and the trim hides where it has been sewn. You can also see the two bound edges on the bottom of the skirt. The bottom edge of the flounce does not overhang the skirt, but is the same length as it.

The underskirt is finished!

1871-3 underskirt front

The front view

The back view

The back view

 

The Overskirt

Step One: Sew the skirt panels together, leaving the centre front seam open. Note: On the side seam of the front panel, two upward-pointing pleats are done prior to sewing the side seams.

Step Two: Take two waistband pieces and sew them in the same way as I sewed the underskirt waistband. Note: The waistband needs to be a finished piece (no raw edges) when a skirt is to be cartridge pleated to it. This is a different method of attaching the skirt and waistband than is normally done.

Step Three: Cartridge-pleat the upper edge of the back panel of the overskirt and attach to the waistband. Attach hooks and eyes to the waistband for fastening.

The top edge of the overskirt, being cartridge pleated.

The top edge of the overskirt being cartridge pleated. Note that the raw edge is folded over before the cartridge pleating stitches are started.

The finished cartridge pleats

The finished cartridge pleats in the back of the overskirt.

Step Four: Right sides together, sew the bias strips of flounce to the bottom edge of the overskirt. Attach trim to cover the seam line.

Step Five: Close the centre front seam by using covered buttons. For the bottom four buttons, overlap the two edges (right over left) of the skirt and sew through all thicknesses. For the remainder, sew buttons to the top layer (right) and attach hooks and eyes to fasten beneath the button, hidden from view.

All the buttons are false; that is, they do not have corresponding buttonholes. The buttons are the top are sewn through the left side of the placket and hooks and eyes are hidden beneath (not shown). The buttons at the bottom are sewn through both sides of the placket.

All the buttons are false; that is, they do not have corresponding buttonholes. The buttons at the top of the picture are sewn through the right side of the placket and hooks and eyes are hidden beneath (not shown here). The buttons at the bottom of the picture are sewn through both layers of the placket.

Step Six: The inside of the overskirt is draped using a system of tapes and buttons. The exact placement of these is detailed in Janet Arnold’s pattern, but can otherwise be done by pinning to see what looks best.

The tapes are sewn to the waistband and have buttonholes sewn into them. The buttons are sewn to the skirt. There are two tapes sewn to each side of the skirt which tie together to keep the skirt sitting at the back.

The tapes are sewn to the waistband and have buttonholes sewn into them. The buttons are sewn to the skirt. There are two tapes sewn to each of the side seams of the skirt which tie together to keep the skirt sitting at the back.

The overskirt is completed!

The front view

The front view

The back view

The back view

The Basque

Step One: Sew the pieces of the basque together. Sew the pieces of the basque lining together in the same way.

I discovered that there is a mistake in the Janet Arnold book, which confused me for awhile. The CB FOLD instructions are on the wrong pattern piece (the front), but when changed to the other (back) pattern piece, it all makes sense again.

The "CB to fold" instruction has been mistakenly put on the wrong pattern piece.

The “CB to fold” instruction has been mistakenly put on the wrong pattern piece.

Step Two: Right sides together, sew the basque and the lining together along the bottom and centre front edge. Fold the right way and press. Trim can now be added to the bottom edge.

Step Three: Make the pleats in the waistline and bind the top edge with bias binding to hold the pleats. Janet Arnold’s example was not bound with bias binding, but I found it easier to do that to properly hold the pleats in place. You could also attach it to the waistband in the normal manner instead.

The basque, with the trim attached and the waistline bound with bias binding, ready to attach to the waistband.

The basque, with the trim attached and the waistline bound with bias binding, ready to attach to the waistband.

Step Four: The waistband is made up of two main pieces: the outer layer cut on the bias, and the lining on the straight grain. The two layers can be laid wrong sides together and bias binding sewn around the top and bottom edges. The raw edges on the two short sides of the waistband can be turned to the inside and sewn down.

Step Four: Hand sew the bound upper edge of the basque to the waistband. I stitched “in the ditch” between the waistband binding and the outer material, through all thicknesses. Add hooks and eyes to fasten.

The basque is finished!

The front view

The front view. The bound waistband meets edge to edge.

The back view

The back view

Making the Trim

Step One: Cut bias strips from your chosen material, joining the strips until you have the necessary length. Fold the raw edges in on the wrong side and press. You piece should now look similar to bias-binding that can be bought in the store.

Anchor your thread with a few stitches to one folded edge of the strip.

Use a few stitches to ancor the thread at one side of the trim.

Use a few stitches to anchor the thread at one side of the trim.

Step Two: Using a running stitch, weave your needle in and out of the material until you have reached the other folded edge of the strip. Don’t pull your needle out, as it makes it more difficult to gather the threads in the next step.

Weave the needle in and out across the strip, creating a running stitch.

Weave the needle in and out across the strip, creating a running stitch.

Step Three: Use your fingers to squeeze the material together whilst it is still attached to the needle, creating a series of gathers.

Use your fingers to squeeze the material together whilst it is still attached to the needle.

Squeeze the material together whilst it is still attached to the needle.

Step Four: Pull the needle through the material, still holding the material tight in its gathers. Make a few small stitches on the other folded edge to anchor the thread.

Anchor the thread by stitching a few more stitches on the other folded edge.

Anchor the thread by stitching a few more stitches on the other folded edge.

Step Five: Hand sew the trim onto your gown, trying to make your stitches as invisible as possible. I hand sewed the top edge and the bottom edge of the trim to the gown, rather than just securing it at the gathers. That then ensures the raw edges are all anchored securely.

The trim attached

The trim attached

And here is the skirts all layered together. My dressmakers form doesn’t seem to hold the bustle in the right place on the waist, so the back does tend to droop. However, it doesn’t do that when I am wearing it.

The skirt layers together.

The skirt layers together.

Keep an eye out for the next post in this series, the evening bodice.

Related Posts

Making a Victorian Corset

Making a Victorian Chemise

Sources and Relevant Links

Image Source: Pinterest (but the original is reported to have come from manchestergalleries.org)

Patterns of Fashion 2: Englishwomens gowns and their construction, by Janet Arnold – buy on Amazon

Sewing a waistband in the normal manner – by Fashion Freaks

How to sew cartridge pleats – by Historical Sewing

1871 ballgown – by Before the Automobile (See this beautiful version of this dress made by someone else!)

Have I told you before how much I love going to the Jane Austen Festival? It is not so much that it is about Jane Austen or even that it is set in the Regency period. It is not about a fantasy for Mr Darcy either.

For me it is about having an opportunity to dress in historical costume. And it is about learning new things about history, like the dress, the events, the accessories, and the entertainments of the time period. And – of course – I do love dancing and spending time catching up with the friends I’ve made at these events. In addition, there is not a whole lot of opportunities in my area to participate in period costume events, which makes the Jane Austen Festival in Canberra all the more alluring.

This year’s festival was aimed at celebrating the 200th anniversary of The Battle of Waterloo and the fall of Napoleon in 1815.

Friday

My caraco worn for the Georgian pleasure evening.

My caraco jacket and stomacher worn for the Georgian pleasure evening.

Our festival weekend began with participation in a wide variety of workshops, from dancing to sewing and historical talks on the era. The sewing options ranged from making an 1820’s pelerine to making a 1806 bonnet, and there were other demonstrations like how to tie a cravat and discussions on putting the finishing touches on your costume.

The history symposium focused on “Austen’s Men”, with presenters not only talking about the men depicted in Austen’s novels, but also the men she interacted with daily, her brothers.

I taught a workshop on making a fichu in the morning, and then spent the afternoon learning to dance some large dances involving 12 to 16 people. Next on the dancing menu was the minuet and the “knotty allemande”, which was mentioned in the 2000 movie, Sense and Sensibility. Interestingly, Emma Thompson (as Elinor Dashwood) dances one of the elements of an allemande (that “peeking-in-the-window” move) in this scene with Robert Ferrars.

My attempt at Georgian hair. It is very difficult to do yourself, and takes a degree of practise!

My attempt at Georgian hair. It is very difficult to do yourself, and takes a degree of practise! I did several hair “trials” in the few weeks leading up to the event.

After spending an hour in the evening doing my hair in an 18th century style (luckily it didn’t fall out!), we arrived at the Georgian Pleasure Evening on Friday night. I wore my caraco jacket and petticoat with the matching embroidered stomacher I made a few years ago. It was a lovely evening intermixed with dancing, singing, Neoclassical ballet performances, card playing and baroque display dances.

Saturday

The second day of the festival involved another comprehensive day of workshops and talks, with the history symposium focusing of The Battle of Waterloo. The sewing workshops included – among other things – making a knitted miser’s purse, how to scale patterns, and a very popular Period Pattern Review discussion that explored a great number of period patterns and their strengths and weaknesses.

I spent the morning again teaching a workshop, this time on whitework embroidery, including both pulled work stitches and normal embroidery stitches.

I then had the opportunity to learn English paper-piecing, which is a patchwork technique used by Jane and Cassandra Austen to make their quilt, currently on display at Chawton Cottage.

Jane Austen's quilt, on display at Chawton Cottage.

Jane Austen’s quilt, on display at Chawton Cottage.

The presenter, Marilyn Steven, brought along her reproduction of the Austen quilt and shared her journey on how she made it, which was fascinating to hear. Since arriving home I have made some great progress on a table runner using hexagons with the paper-piecing technique.

This is my attempt at paper-piecing, so far.

This is my attempt at paper-piecing, so far.

I had my Regency silhouette taken by an extremely talented young lady who could cut a silhouette from black cardboard in 3 minutes! I was quite pleased with the result. “Now all it needs is a suitable frame.” Perhaps Mr Elton would be so kind…

My Regency silhouette

My Regency silhouette

The remainder of my afternoon was spent dancing; the Mescolanze, the Mazurka, the Waltz and the Polonaise. One particular favourite was learning to dance the Lendler, most popularly seen in the movie Sound of Music, though our version differed a bit from the movie version shown here.

My daughter dancing the Lendler

My daughter dancing the Lendler

I found the Lendler particularly tricky at about the part where she (Julie Andrews) started blushing. It was quite easy to get yourself and your partner all tangled in knots! The picture to the left is of my daughter dancing the Lendler with the dance instructor, John Gardiner-Garden.

My 1813 gown

My 1813 gown

On Saturday evening, we attended The Battle of Waterloo Ball. I was suitably attired in my 1813 reproduction of a fashion plate, so I didn’t feel TOO behind the times for an 1815 ball. Though, would you believe, I am STILL embroidering dots on the netting two years after finishing the dress! Maybe by next year… I think I have 120 dots to go…

The Belgium ambassador

The Belgium ambassador to Australia, H.E. Mr. Jean-Luc Bodson.

We had the pleasure of welcoming the Belgium ambassador for the evening, who talked briefly about the impact that the Battle of Waterloo had on Belgium. When he is not living in Canberra, Australia, he lives at Waterloo, which is located in the middle of Belgium. He related how the Belgian people fought on both sides of the conflict and how important it was that Napoleon be defeated.

One of the highlights of the evening was the first-ever dance through of “The Battle of Waterloo Dance”, cleverly depicting ranks of soldiers coming forward to engage in battle. With 96 dancers on the floor in one large set, it was quite a feat – not incomparable to the battle itself!

Sunday

The morning was spent at a local theatre seeing a production of “Mr Bennet’s Bride”, a prequel to Pride and Prejudice, which explored how Mr Bennet came to choose Mrs Bennet as his wife. It was a superbly performed period theatre experience and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I don’t get many opportunities to visit the theatre, so it was a real treat.

Afterwards one of the directors came over to me and congratulated me on my costume. He said that the Costume Director had been looking at all the audience members’ costumes and thought that mine was especially worthy of comment. I thought that was a lovely compliment!

Lovely weather for a ride in the barouche-box! "As I cannot bear the idea of a young woman travelling post! By themselves!"

Lovely weather for a ride in the barouche-box… “As I cannot bear the idea of a young woman travelling post! By themselves!”

The afternoon weather was perfect for the promenade from Albert Hall to the Lennox Gardens in Canberra. A leisurely parasol-filled picnic and carriage ride followed.

The festival concluded with the late afternoon Cotillion Ball, where I managed to dance my favourite dance, The Downfall of Paris, before leaving for the long drive home.

This event has become an annual tradition for me, (its just my cup of tea really!) and I am hoping to take some more of my children next year. Stay tuned for some forthcoming posts on costumes for children in the coming year!

We are also planning some Regency events for next year in Melbourne, Australia. You can check out The Melbourne Regency Picnic on Facebook for our up-and-coming event on March 6th, 2016 at Elsternwick.

Related Posts

My Regency Journey: The Destination – Jane Austen Festival 2012

Jane Austen Festival – Australia 2013

At the Jane Austen Festival – Australia 2014

Sources and Relevant Links

Jane Austen Festival Australia – website

How to do Georgian hair, using a bun donut – Youtube (I used a bun donut for the front, but for the back I rolled my hair up using my fingers and pinned it in place like Locks of Elegance did.)

Jane Austen’s quilt – The Jane Austen Centre

How to do English paper-piecing – by Craftsy

Mr Bennet’s Bride goes on tour” – by Herald Sun

Pinterest is full of ideas on how to upcycle button-up shirts into steampunk outfits!

Pinterest is full of ideas on how to upcycle button-up shirts into steampunk outfits!

I have recently enjoyed a little excursion in the world of steampunk. I suddenly came up with the idea to go to a steampunk event with some friends and I needed to make a quick and easy costume. I started with a skirt and then moved onto a blouse made from an ordinary shirt.

Steampunk is the name given to a new and modern reinterpretation of Victorian clothing. Essentially, Victorian clothing elements (such as lace, corsets, bustles and flounces) are combined with industrial themes (such as metal, leather, and dark colours) to create a very modern and often burlesque look. As I don’t really like black, I have come up with a bit of a lighter and brighter idea, but I feel it is still worth sharing.

I started with an ordinary button up shirt that I bought from a second-hand shop.

The shirt I started with; long-sleeved, button-up, with cuffs. Cotton spandex blend with a "tucked" texture woven into it.

The shirt I started with; long-sleeved, button-up, with cuffs. Cotton spandex blend with a “tucked” texture woven into it.

Construction Steps

Step 1: Cut off the sleeves at elbow length. Cut out two “windows” on each side of the upper chest. Trim the bottom edge to desired shape.

The shirt trimmed back

The shirt trimmed back

Step 2: Sew lace onto chest area. I tucked the raw edges of the lace underneath the shirt and topstitched through all layers. But the scalloped edge of the lace I placed on top of the shirt and topstitched through all layers.

The lace placed in the cut-out section.

The lace placed in the cut-out section.

Step 3: Sew lace along bottom edge of shirt. I pressed the seam upwards and topstitched to hold it in place.

The lace sewn to the bottom edge.

The lace sewn to the bottom edge.

Step 4: Out of the scraps I made the new cuffs. I needed 8 quarters of a circle in order to make two full-circle cuffs. I cut 2 quarters from the bottom of the shirt, 2 from the upper part of each sleeve and 1 from the bottom part of each sleeve. (Total = 8)

The cuffs being cut out.

The cuffs being cut out. Top: the bottom part of the shirt. Middle: Sleeve one. Bottom: Sleeve two.

I joined the cuff pieces with some insertion lace.

One cuff with 4 quarters sewn together.

One cuff sewn together, containing 4 quarters of a circle pieced and joined with insertion lace to form a full circle.

The cuffs were then sewn to the bottom of the sleeve. I also hemmed the cuff by attaching some more lace trim.

The full-circle cuffs

The full-circle cuffs

Step 5: In order to make the shirt more fitted, I decided to add some lacing at the back. Using the placket sitting just above the sleeve cuff, I added some eyelets and sewed it to sit in the small of the back. I added pink lacing to match the skirt.

The back lacing

The back lacing

All finished!

The front view

The front view

This was quite a quick and easy up-cycling project. The total project cost $1 (!), as I tried to use only items that were in my stash or leftover from other projects. And the limits to this type of costume are only your imagination!

Related Posts

Making a Steampunk Skirt

Making a Victorian Fan Skirt

Sources and Relative Links

Image Source: from Pinterest

How to sew insertion lace – by Wearing History

A mid-18th century fichu, embroidered in whitework, from The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

A mid-18th century fichu, embroidered in whitework, from The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Since I have ventured into the world of whitework embroidery, making an embroidered fichu has been on my list of things to do. It is the sort of project that I figured could be started and still worn while the embroidery was being done.

Fichus, also called neckerchiefs or kerchiefs, served a similar purpose to a Regency chemisette, which was to fill in the neckline of the gown. They were used through the 17th, 18th and parts of the 19th centuries. Kerchiefs were generally made from a sheer or lightweight fabric, either cotton, linen, silk or lace. They were often white and could be embroidered with whitework, but they could also be made from coloured or patterned fabric and embroidered with coloured threads.

Pattern

Eighteenth century fichus and neckerchiefs came in quite an array of shapes and sizes.

  • Fichus could be long rectangles, a bit more like a shawl or a stole. One example I found was 53 inches long and another 114 inches long and 15 inches wide.
  • They could be made square, and then folded in half diagonally and put around the shoulders. The sizes I found ranged from 30 to over 40 inches square.
  • Kerchiefs could be triangular. They could have a slit to accommodate the neck area, or sometimes a scoop cut out for the neck. Sizes (along one straight edge) ranged from 28 inches to 76 inches, with the depth at the centre back ranging from a mere 5 inches to a rather deep 20 inches.
  • They could be diamond in shape and, similarly to the square ones, were folded in half to be worn.
A variety of fichu or kerchief shapes.

A variety of fichu or kerchief shapes.

Fichus could be worn underneath the dress (as a chemisette is), or on top of the dress. They could be fastened with a pin or tucked into the stomacher or waistband. If long enough, they were crossed over in front, passed under the arms and then tied at the small of the back. The Oregon Regency Society has some additional shapes and diagrams of some of the ways they were worn.

For my fichu, I cut a piece of white cotton muslin in a right-angled triangle, with each straight edge measuring 35 inches.

The pattern and cutting of a fichu

The pattern and cutting of a fichu

Construction Steps

Step One: I hemmed my triangle on all sides using a rolled hem. Some embroidered fichus were hemmed with a scalloped blanket stitch, but I thought that doing a rolled hem initially would enable this item to be worn immediately and any blanket stitch hemming could be done later if needed.

Doing a rolled hem; by Hub Pages

Doing a rolled hem; by Hub Pages

Step Two: I decided on an embroidery pattern and drew out my pattern on a large sheet of paper, making sure I had several repeats of the pattern in the drawing. I laid (and alligator-clipped) the muslin over the top of the pattern and traced the drawing with an erasable fabric marker.

My inspiration was from some whitework on a 1780’s gown held in The Metropolitan Museum of Art museum. This design, with two intersecting lines of a semi-circular pattern that weaves back and forth to create “joined ovals”, was an extremely popular design in the 18th century. I used it in a similar way in my Embroidered Lawn Ruffles, using the edge of the scallop as one of the “lines”.

Whitework embroidery from a 1780's gown. Source: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Whitework embroidery from a 1780’s gown. Source: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Step Three: I began the embroidery, using 1 strand of white DMC cotton. My technique was to embroider the whole length of the pattern with the major figures in the pattern, and then repeat with the more minor elements. This meant that, at any given time, my embroidery was fairly balanced and my fichu could be worn even if the embroidery was not completed.

The embroidery detail, showing chain stitches, satin stitches and overcast eyelets.

The embroidery detail, showing chain stitches, satin stitches and overcast eyelets. The blank area opposing the eyelet filling will be worked with pulled stitches.

Embroidery Stitches Used

Chain stitch

Chain stitch: I used this as an outline, but it can also be used as a filling. Source: Rocksea & Sarah

Chain stitch: I used this as an outline, but it can also be used as a filling. Source: Rocksea & Sarah

Eyelets (overcast)

Eyelets: Usually pricked with an awl first (to make a wide enough hole) and then an overcast stitch sewn around the edges. Source: Rocksea & Sarah.

Eyelets: Usually pricked with an awl first (to make a wide enough hole) and then an overcast stitch sewn around the edges. Source: Rocksea & Sarah.

Satin stitch

Satin stitch: I found that doing an outline in running stitch was really effective in helping the final result to look good. Source: Rocksea & Sarah.

Satin stitch: I found that doing an outline in running stitch was really effective in helping the final result to look good. Source: Rocksea & Sarah.

Various pulled stitches

These weren’t completed when the pictures were taken, but for more information on pulled work, you can visit my Pulled Work Embroidery Sampler pages.

The front view

The front view

The back view; the embroidery is not complete at the centre back, as there will be a central motif there.

The back view; the embroidery is not complete at the centre back, as there will be a central motif there.

I am quite pleased with it, even though I found the embroidery did get a bit tedious at times. I do find I have to be in the right “mood” for embroidery. And if I am not enjoying it I find it harder to keep motivated! I still have a bit to complete, but that will come.

Related Posts

Pulled Work Embroidery Sampler: Part One

Dresden Whitework Stitch Sampler

Sources and Relevant Links

First Image Source: from The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Fabulous Fichu – by The Oregon Regency Society

Regency Fichus: More than just squares of fabric – by The Oregon Regency Society (lovely pictures of extant fichus)

A large number of links to 18th century extant fichus and neckerchiefs – by 18th Century Notebook

How to do a rolled hem – by Hub Pages

Second Image Source: from The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Regency needlework designs (1811-1815) in Ackermann’s Repository – by My Fanciful Muse

Rocksea and Sarah – embroidery tutorials

Pulled work stitches – by Lynxlace

This week I got a call about an industrial sewing machine that someone was planning put out for rubbish collection. I really wasn’t interested in acquiring more stuff that I don’t really have room for, and especially an industrial sewing machine that I wasn’t sure that I would use.

However, when I got saw some pictures of it I instantly changed my mind. And upon arriving to have a look at it, I was glad I had!

My new electric Singer 31K20 machine.

My new electric Singer 31K20 machine in her new home.

This new machine is a Singer 31K20, which was one of their electric industrial range. It was made in Britain in 1951, and has a lovely little plague commemorating 100 years of Singer sewing machines. It has a foot pedal which engages a clutch motor that then turns the belts to operate the machine.

"A Century of Sewing Service: The Singer Manfc Co. 1851-1951"

“A Century of Sewing Service: The Singer Manfc Co. 1851-1951″

It is not quite the same as the lovely old Singer treadle machines (which is something that I have always wanted), but never-the-less, to get something like this for free is not something to take lightly!

I used the serial number – EG 651406 – to find the manufacture date, which is May 23, 1951. On this date, 15,000 31K machines were allotted for sale.

It is nice to have a little piece of history in my home!

Related Posts

My New Lady

Sources and Relevant Links

Use your Singer Serial Number to find its date of manufacture

Steampunk is the name given to a new and modern reinterpretation of Victorian clothing. Essentially, Victorian clothing elements (such as lace, corsets, bustles and flounces) are combined with industrial themes (such as metal, leather, and dark colours) to create a very modern and often burlesque look.

A steampunk skirt by Retroscope.

A steampunk skirt sold by Retroscope Fashions.

I – rather suddenly – decided to go to a steampunk event with some friends and needed a rather quick and easy costume for it. My idea was that I could draft a pattern of a relatively simple Victorian skirt and use some of the steam punk ideas to dress it up. I looked at several skirts on the internet and came up with a look I was happy with. Now, before sharing this quick little project, I must say that I have never made a steampunk outfit before. I also don’t really like black or brown and revealing or skimpy clothing are not really my cup of tea (probably because I am not that young and slim anymore!). So this little steampunk adventure doesn’t really feel “punky” enough to deserve the name! However, I felt that it was still worth sharing.

Pattern

After looking at several skirts online, I decided that I could use a similar pattern as my Victorian petticoat, with all the ruffles at the back. I also wanted the front cut shorter at the knees, and I wanted some draping to imitate a bustle at the back. I really liked the wider waistband (more like a yoke) that lots of steampunk skirts have, with the addition of possible lacing to imitate a corset.

Pattern Pieces:

  • Front Skirt Panel – cut 1 on fold
  • Side Skirt Panel – cut 2
  • Back Skirt Panel – cut 1 on fold
  • Back Short “Bustle” Piece – cut 1 on fold
  • Back Long “Bustle” Piece – cut 1 on fold
  • Front Yoke – cut 1 (plus cut 1 for lining)
  • Back Yoke – cut 1 (plus cut 1 for lining)

This is the pattern layout that I began with. Remember to add any seam allowances.

This is the pattern layout for the skirt.

This is the pattern layout for the skirt. The dotted lines across the back panel indicate the cutting line for the “bustle” pieces. This means that this back piece will need to be cut three times, each on a fold line (once for the skirt back, once for the short “bustle” piece, and once for the long “bustle” piece).

I have used some notch marks to indicate how the skirt panels are pieced together. The fold line on the front panel is the centre front and the fold line on the back panel is the centre back. The skirt part is quite easy to fit to any figure. The curve line at the top of each of the skirt panels needs to measure about 1/5th of your total waist circumference. You can make the “waist curve” in back skirt panel a little longer than this if you like, which will give the back panel more gathers. You can make the skirt length whatever you like. I have made mine to scoop up at the front.

The yoke, however, will take a bit more fitting. Maybe you have a pattern you could use with a yoke that already fits you. Otherwise you can use some scrap material to make a toile or mock-up, which can be fitted to your body and then unpicked to use for your pattern. Or you could “drape” your yoke, which is what I did. To do this, set your dressmakers form to your measurements and then pin some fabric to the centre front waist, making sure the grain line is vertical. Smooth the fabric around to the sides of the dummy. In order to make the fabric sit correctly, you will end up with a curve at the top of your yoke and a diagonal seam at the sides. Do the same with the back. Cut or pin your yoke to fit, then sew it together and try it on to double-check. My back and front yoke ended up being different sizes, but they could be the same. Semptress also has a great tutorial to make your own yoke pattern too. Unfortunately, I didn’t take as many pictures as I usually do, so my construction steps are a little sparse with diagrams!

Construction Steps

Step 1: Firstly, take the two back “bustle” pieces and sew the ruffles and lace along the bottom edge. These two “bustle” pieces are then gathered separately and laid on top of the back panel, which has also been gathered separately. Pin all layers together along the waistline. It makes sense at this point to pin the side seams of all the layers together. This will mean that the raw edges of the bustle pieces will be hidden in the seams of the skirt. I forgot to do this and instead I did Step 2 first and then I had to topstitch the “bustle” pieces to the skirt.

The two bustle pieces have been hemmed at the side seams and then laid on top of the skirt. Then top-stitched through all layers. Not the best way to do it really.

The two “bustle” pieces have been hemmed at the side seams and then laid on top of the skirt. A top-stitch through all layers attaches the pieces. This is not the neatest way to do it unfortunately!

Step 2: Sew all the skirt panels together, flat-felling the seams.

Step 3: Sew the front and back yoke pieces together. Sew the front and back yoke lining pieces together. With right sides together, sew the yoke and the lining together along the top curved edge. Clip curves and turn to the right side.

Step 4: Attach the skirt to the bottom curved edge of the yoke. Make sure the front side seam is sitting at the yoke side seam so that a zip can be easily inserted. Adjust the gathers of the back panel and “bustle” pieces to fit. These will probably be fairly tightly gathered!

Step 5: Sew the zip into the side seam of the yoke and into the top of the front side seam. Then handstitch the yoke lining down, folding under any raw edges.

Not precision work, but a zip none-the-less!

Not precision work, but a zip none-the-less!

Step 6: Sew the ruffle and lace along the bottom edge of the skirt. My ruffles were folded lengthwise (so the ruffle did not have to be hemmed) and then pleated.

The ruffle is cut on the straight grain and folded lengthwise. Any joins are made with a seam. The entire ruffle is pleated.

The ruffle is cut on the straight grain and folded lengthwise. Any joins are made with a seam. The entire ruffle is pleated.

Step 7: Attach two lengths of cotton tape or twill tape to the inside of the yoke, where the two back side seams of the skirt meet the yoke. Attach a button to each point where the bottom of the “bustle” pieces meets this seam; a total of four buttons. Sew buttonholes in the tape so that the skirt can be drawn up and buttoned. You can add more buttonholes to the tape so that you have more options for draping.

The inside of the skirt, at the back. You can see the two lengths of twill tape which is buttoned to four buttons.

The inside of the skirt, at the back. You can see the two lengths of twill tape which is buttoned to four buttons.

Other optional extras:

  • I really wanted to add a lacing panel to the yoke somewhere, mainly because this dress will be leant to friends and it would provide a way to draw in any fullness (as well as being a bit decorative).
  • I also wanted to have a drawstring casing or some sort of clip system to the front panel (on each of the front side seams) so that the front of the dress could be drawn up over the knees.

These can always be added later. For now it is all finished!

Front view

Front view

Back view

Back view

Stay tuned for my new steampunk blouse!

Related Posts

Making a Victorian Petticoat

Making a Victorian Fan Skirt

Sources and Relative Links

Image Source: Retroscope Fashions

How to draft a skirt yoke pattern – by Semptress

How to flat-fell seams – by Sew Neau

How to sew a yoke to a skirt – video by BurdaStyle (The skirt shown here has a centre back opening, but mine has a side opening.)

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