Tuesday, February 27, 2018

HSF #2: 1880's Reproduction Corset

The goal with this corset: to make an awesome corset, no skimping on the flossing, all the way through, that could work under an 1880's dress.

I wanted to not get too crazy with color choices, so I looked around at all the corsets within this time frame. Overall, I really liked this particular corset because the seam lines were very comparable to the Truly Victorian pattern I already had. I copied the exact boning design; the back diagonal section I had to fudge a little because my corset overall turned out longer, and I think I may be a little smaller, so the exact angle is different. In fact, it didn't turn out the same on both sides, because I finally succcessfully got both sides even; so the one side has 6 diagonal, and the other 7.

c. 1880-85 Corset in the Royal Ontario Museum

After reading some articles and watching some videos, I decided to try roll-pinning. Roll-pinning is the theory that, if you pin something on a flat plane, and wear it on a curved sphere, the outside layer will be too small, and the inner too big. This process involves pinning the two layer together on a sphere; in this case, I used my larger pressing ham. His name is Hammie. The two layers were then hand-stitched together. It was a lot of work....because I haven't done more corsets, I don't know how it would have turned out if I hadn't pinned it like this. But overall, it lays pretty well without many wrinkles. So, success, I guess?

I also decided to try putting the seams on the outside (why?), and covered it with the boning channels. As I was constructing it, I wasn't sure why I picked that, but later it ended up coming in handy.
This is the closest I've come in corset-making to an even back.

Once the grommets, boning channels and busk were in, I tried it on. It had been like 6 months since the mockup had been worn. Initially, it took some time to figure out the best way to lace it up; the first time I laced it too tight in the ribs. Also, I stabbed my hands three times really hard because I pinned the bones in rather than baste across the top. Double hole for each stab, with the pin going in and out and I had to carefully draw it out. So I was hurting and frustrated. After coming back to it with more patience and time (and the bones basted in), I figured out the best way to lace it.

I only have two small regrets with this project that can technically be fixed:

1. The bust shaping. To fix the bust, I ripped the front casing off halfway and added in a really tiny gusset to round it out a little more. Once the seam allowance was trimmed and the casing back on, you can't even tell it's there! It's not perfect on one side, but better overall. Still want to perfect that.

2. I would never have even thought of the wider bone, except for the original, so I thought I'd try it. Whoops....didn't realize that exact seam line curves forward quite a bit, and it hits right at my hip bones. So the tighter I have it laced, the more the bone tweaks, although the hip bone thing is a little uncomfortable, but not as big a problem as I thought. Technically, I could remove the bone and leave the channel (it needs to cover the seam) and re-angle it so it's a little closer to my actual side, and more upright.

There are a few areas of this project that mystify me a little bit: the natural form tummy, and hip spring. Back in July, I had sort of a hip-spring revalation after adding gussets to my older corset. Wow! What a difference! So comfortable and attractive! I no longer looked top-heavy. With the old corset gussets, it gave me a lot more spring out the back. With this particular corset though, it gives me more spring out to the side, and more flatness in the back. Huh. Some people are amazing at that balancing act; I'm still trying to figure out if perfection is possible when you have less body to work with?!? Like, do I have to pick between the back or the side? And if I try to balance between the two will it not be so extreme and not even be worth trying?

The other undergarments made to go with this are a basic natural form petticoat, and a bum pad. Initially, the pad was made to wrap all the way around my hips to the side, but I decided that I was hippy enough without any help. Actually, I wasn't even going to make a hip pad, but after the petticoat was made it was clear that the silhouette was really, really sad without it. It took several tries to get this the right shape; I'm so used to mid-Victorian, with sudden fullness right below the waist, but to get the right shape it really needs to slope, with the fullness gradually being added the further down it gets.

The petticoat is the Truly Victorian pattern, the only adjustment being that I added a tie right at mid-thigh level to pull the fullness to the back. The bum pad is tacked on one side, and then the other side gets safety pinned to the waistband once the waist is tied. I found that the bum pad wouldn't stay up on it's own, and kept riding up in the front and falling down in the back. I'd rather have it sewn permanently to the petticoat, with the petticoat closing at the side front. But....I'm lazy, so that isn't happening.

What the item is: Natural form corset, petticoat, and pad. 
Material: Coutil, silk-faced satin, cotton sateen, muslin.
Pattern: TV 1880's pattern, and the TV basic petticoat
Year: 1870's-1890's for the corset, and 1877-1882 for the petticoat.
Notions: Metal busk, German plastic boning, 2 wider metal steels, thread, embroidery floss, twill tape, metal grommets, stuffing (for the pad)How historically accurate is it? The corset is based on an extant, and I can't think of any techniques which aren't accurate, other than the plastic bones. The stuffing for the pad is polyester, because there comes a point where you just don't care. Patting myself on the back with an 80%, although for natural form I'm a little flat in the belly area. I was wanting to make some combinations to finish this challenge off, but that's going to have to wait.
Hours to complete: 60 hours for the whole thing, started way back in July or August.
First worn: For my next project, it's been a constant on-off act, so I've already worn these undergarments for a few hours at a time maybe 8 times.
Total cost: $80; satin was expensive, coutil was stash, busk and boning was new, I had to buy a new grommet-setting kit because I was tired of the size 0's so I'm counting that as part of the cost. 

By the way....if you see any black galloon beading lace....LET ME KNOW. I searched high and low for something close, to no avail, and I wasn't willing to settle since it seemed like a simple request. 

Friday, January 26, 2018

1820's Undergarments

This technically counts towards the Historical Sew Monthly, so I guess I'll start there. It's kind of lame, so stick towards the end of the post for the real coolness.

This undergarment ensemble really needed a chemise. A basic Regency chemise is typically square necked, either high or low, with straight sleeves and a gusset in the underarm. I have one of those already, BUT I chopped the sleeves off once I decided I wanted it to be invisible under my sheer dresses. 

I've really been enjoying Cassidey Percoco's Regency Women's Fashion book. The dresses themselves aren't spectacular in my opinion, but that is what makes them so perfect as the base for whatever design you want. Just comparing to Janet Arnold, which are iconic in their own right, a lot of her dresses are designed around specific elements that you can't leave out. Anyways, a chemise pictured in their is almost EXACTLY like the ones I've drafted from the free pattern from the Sewing Academy. 

Except with a puffed sleeve. Enter a Re-do, from a chemise pulled the stash. See, I said it was lame! The holes from the original plain hem are still visible, although after a washing maybe not. 
This is the before, in its wrinkly state.

After is way cuter!

The Challenge: Mend, Re-Shape, Re-Fashion
Material: Cotton muslin
Pattern: Self-drafted using The Sewing Academy Pattern, modified to match the 1820-1840 one from Regency Women's Fashion

Year: 1820-1840
Notions: Thread
How historically accurate is it? Since almost the exact measurements are comparable to a pattern taken from an original, the shape is very good, although sewing machines weren't invented yet and it's done completely by machine. I'd give it an 80%. 
Hours to complete: 1 for the re-shape. 
First worn: For pictures, 1/26/18
Total cost: Nothing

For a complete 1820's undergarmnet wardrobe, a few things are needed:

-A chemise
-A corset, typically corded during this era, with minimal waist shaping but with a high bust and straps
-A petticoat, stiffened at the bottom with plenty of fullness to the back, and relatively smooth in front. These were made like earlier Regency petticoats, in that they need either straps or a bodice to hold the whole thing up. This is mainly due to the fact that the corsets are smooth all the way down, and without a well-defined waist it won't stay up. Whether or not these need to be layered to get the correct silhouette is yet to be determined; usually the actual dress on top was padded at the hem to hold it out, so I'm thinking I may be good with the one if I dip starch it. 

The exaggerated A-shape with the cording is very particular to the 1820's. 1830's petticoats have more of a bell shape with more fulness at least coming to the sides, and layering of petticoats to get the right amount of poof. I searched other blogger's websites for how they went about 1820's undergarments, and let me tell you folks, there ain't much. Whenever the question is thrown out about which era is the least represented, people always say, "1830's!" or "1840's!". That's because they forgot about the 1820's. So what works and what doesn't in terms of undergarments is only partially tapped territory. My thanks to Annaliese of The Young Sewphisticate and Quinn from The Quintessential Clothes Pen for providing ideas for 1820's undergarments. Per Quinn's suggestion, I decided that sleeve plumpers (AKA, croissants for your arms) aren't neccesary for 1825, as the sleeve done up in taffeta can hold it's own shape.

Mine is based on an example in the V and A; I haven't researched these extensively, mostly because this one was exactly what I was looking for! It's hard to see in the picture, but through other detail shots you can see that it has straps, and that it has 12 rows of cords, sewn at intervals. I couldn't figure out why it had that seam at knee level, although I figured it out halfway through the project. 
1820-1829 Petticoat from the V and A

The pattern was drafted using just the skirt part of another pattern in Cassidy Percoco's book. Looking back, this pattern wasn't perfect for this, just because the front panel needs a little more shaping a little closer to the front, rather than way back at the sides where the next panel joins. The person who originally wore this was at least 6'' smaller, and I didn't realize this when I first started. As a base though, it's fine. 

There are two different ways you can do cording: the sandwich method, where you sew a facing to the back and the cords in between the layers, or the tuck method, where you iron your fabric like you're sewing a tuck and then squish the cord in. Because the panels are A-shaped, I opted for the tuck method, just because I wasn't envisioning a facing on a diagonal panel. This actually ended up being really frustrating, because ironing on a curve is annoying and I just sort of stopped caring if the seams lined up. I was ironing yet another tuck when I realized: the extant petticoat was made with the cords sewn into a long rectangle of fabric, and then sewn onto the bottom of a short A-shape petticoat. This was a forehead smack moment, and I wish I had thought of it sooner. Oh well, I'm still really happy with the shape of it, and it lays nice and flat without any shirring.

This corset I've had for maybe 2 years now, and this is it's first blog appearance since it's been finished. It's not much to look at, in all it's flossed-in-two-colors laced-closed glory, but it's very comfortable and gives me the shape I want.

Stay tuned, I have a really cool announcement in the next few days!

Friday, January 12, 2018

2017 In Review

This year has been productive, mostly in the way I planned, although not exactly. I'm holding next year's plans loosely; I have projects planned for the first half of the year, but the 2nd half is unplanned.

In January, I went to the museum and got to experience research first-hand. Lot's of pictures and online research ensued. I started to blog about Neoclassicism (see my post about the Rose-Colored Glasses), but as far as research goes, ideas are hard to pin down. I got derailed almost right after that post was written. I learned a lot, but putting those ideas down with sources is tough because it's been a while.
Photo Credit: Idaho Historical Museum

The Historical Sew Monthly was a complete bust this year. I think I finished two challenges. I didn't forget about it, the challenges just were completely out of what I was working on.

I also got to meet Gina White in person!
Chocolate was such a lamb and SO EXHAUSTED from plunging through 2 foot snow like the unworked maniac she was. Go to Gina's blog to read more about that experience!

In February, I completed my 1860's green plaid evening bodice. I am SO happy with the fit of it, that part turned out perfect. All in all it's not as exciting as a completely new project. As much as I like the bows, I think I may remove the one's on the shoulders for future wearing.

I also completed the Scroop Fantail skirt, which my sister really likes!

Spring was filled with more research than sewing, but in June I started sewing the 1805 dress that was a goal for 2017. It was finished it very quickly; it was a fun project and turned out exactly how I wanted it to. However, I have zero accessories and it's too basic to even photograph without any. So a goal for 2018 is to finish the fichu I started, buy a pair of American Duchess shoes to go with it, and sew a bonnet. I've had the pattern for at least 2 years just sitting around! Here's a preview of the completely hand-sewn ruffles.

In August, I started researching designs for an overdress for the c. 1800 dress I finished last year. The tunic turned out really well; to me, it's not the most amazing thing I've ever sewn, but the photoshoot may be the closest thing to fame I'll ever feel!

I masterminded a project with my sister in September; I won't say I sewed this dress, since she technically did all the actual work, but I drafted the pattern and gave step-by-step instructions. It's basically a replica of the Clio dress; as much as she loves it and all it's graceful twirliness, she had already worn it 4 times, and the armholes had always been really uncomfortable. So it is STILL the dress that never dies, it simply lives on in a different color, with better armholes. Sorry, this is the only picture I have of it!
When asked what she wanted to name it, I think she said, "King Louise XVth." ?!?!

A few months ago, I started volunteering at the Idaho Historical Museum; it's given me the chance to see a LOT of historic garments. Sadly, I can't give any pictures out, because they have a privacy policy.

Another goal for 2017 was to pass on some knowledge in some way; I think I had either online tutorials, or in-person instruction in my mind. I now have a brilliant student, Emily, who has been working with me since June. She's learned how to draft simple patterns, work with a graph, hand-sewing skills like cartridge pleating, techniques like knife-pleating, hand-hemming, darts, piping, binding and corset-making skills like boning, busk-insertion and grommet installation. In 6 months she's sewn a chemise, drawers, corset, ruffled bustle, ruffled petticoat, and now we're working with a really complicated Janet Arnold pattern.
This is just the underskirt, over the bustle and petticoat.

In October, I really wanted a new corset for upcoming later Victorian projects; not that my old one isn't any good, but the bust shaping isn't quite what I want it to be. I've also always wanted a fancy corset. Since it still isn't 100% done (flossing is ALMOST there, and then binding), I'm not going to post any pictures. Also sometime during the year, I finished a lobster tail bustle and petticoat to go over it. The lobster tail bustle might just be my favorite project; it took maybe 10 hours, but it was a ton of fun to make, and it super satisfying to wear! It still needs one more petticoat to hide the ridges.

In 2018, I have plans to attend Costume College! Yay!!!!! So I need to plan outfits to wear there. Most of the undergarments made will be used for dresses this year. I would like to wear the 1805 dress there, but the other 2 dresses that I have planned so far have yet to be started. My list of projects include:

An 1820's corded, bodiced, A-shape petticoat 
1820-29 Petticoat from the V and A

A new Regency chemise (I ripped the sleeves off mine so they wouldn't show, but I need one with sleeves!)

Combination undergarments, and maybe a bustle pad? Both of these things are optional, since I technically have a chemise and drawers I can wear and a bustle pad may not be needed.

Complete dress ensembles are:

An 1879 evening dress, in yellow shot taffeta. I am completely in love with everything natural form. One of my maybe plans from last year was that blue wool natural form dress; as much as I love that design, I honestly love every single 1877-80 design I see. So probably more of that to come either later this year or in 2019.
 December 1879 Peterson's Magazine

An 1825 morning dress in silk, color undetermined (anyone know what Egyptian flame-colour is???)
June 1825 Ladies Monthly Museum

1884 walking dress; I have red wool challis for this project already, but I can't find red and black striped silk! Why!?!** This is a project my friend Tiana and I planned maybe 6 months ago, and that was what initially got me making a new corset and the lobster tail.
1884 Revue de la Mode

An 1860's evening dress in barred turquoise organdy (this was on my to-do list LAST year, sheesh!) **
This design isn't final, but it's about the right color and I LOVE IT! 1862 Les Modes Parisiennes


An 1805 bonnet
November 1807 Ladies Magazine; or something along these lines?

An 1805 fichu (50% finished)
This painting, while undated of Louise Christine Egbertine Francoise Hora Siccama, is a little early for this project, but this style of fichu with the ruche I've seen in portraits dated a little before, and a little after, the 1803-1807 window I've got going.

Maybe a spencer or half-length pelisse to go over the 1805 dress? That's an if-I-have-time project.**
A little blue reticule to go with the 1825 dress
An 1825 lace cap
1884 Bonnet/cap/hat thingy **

** = probably not for Costume College, but hopefully after wards sometime this year.

As much as I would like to make a New Year's resolution about not making any more corsets because they take WAY more time than is warranted, I'm guessing after Costume College I may be inspired to try a new era, so I really am not making any promises. I keep thinking I should branch out of the 1800's (I'm thinking early 1700's at some point), but honestly I could be occupied with the Victorian era my entire life!

While I didn't complete all of my to-do's for 2017, I'm hoping 2018 will be doable, although all the post Costume College projects are questionable and I'm not set on them. I did reach my research goal; I don't know what that was exactly, but I learned A LOT this year. If you want fashion plates, or ideas for fabric, or want the original fashion plate description, come to me! Also a lot on Victorian dress etiquette, which I'm thinking I may turn into a video.