Last week, we talked all about my process of creating and designing historical gowns. But that led many to ask:
“How do I get into historical sewing?”
“What if I’m new to sewing? Can I still start?”
And the answer is ABSOLUTELY YES! Join me as I chat about what exactly historical sewing is, some easy beginning patterns and pattern brands to try out, along with tools you will need! ***Hint – you probably already have everything you need! 😉
“Wish I could figure out how to design a gown like that!”
Well, I’ve been listening and have decided to share the process I go through when I design a historical gown. From original inspiration to my next steps, you will learn about what books and patterns I go to first for help along the way!
Let’s get going!
Have another topic you would like me to chat about? Dying to know some of my construction or designing secrets?
Leave a comment below! 🙂
PS: The book I was referring to is Fashion: The Collection from the Kyoto Fashion Institute. 🙂
My goodness but it has been a long time since I’ve last posted. Please know that this is no indication that I am planning on closing or shutting down my blog….not at all! It is simply a reflection of going with the flow of life and my creative juices. But here on this slightly rainy and grey Saturday, I felt like writing and sharing a little of what I am into and planning this spring!
So lets start with some sewing…my favorite thing to talk about! 🙂 I have discovered a secret love of bustle gowns and completed my first just a few months ago! I most definitely feel a little late to the 1880’s party, but oh boy am I here to stay!! I relied heavily on Prior Attire’s Victorian Dressmaking book (link HERE) and have to say I am very pleased with my first attempt.
I can’t believe we are already at Thanksgiving! While I feel that the summer went by at a normal pace, this fall has simply flew!!
I have been very busy sewing these past days, not only getting ready for Black Friday and Cyber Monday on my shop (click HERE to see all the deals), but also with some fun projects just for the heck of it! One such project, was this 1810’s day gown in such a fun shade of coral-ly pink.
I was thrilled and honored to be apart of such a wonderful exhibit and celebration that I thought I would share a some details of not only the gown I made, but also the women who made the outfit popular.
To start with the Bloomer gown, as we know it, was not first worn by Amelia Bloomer but actually by Elizabeth Smith Miller of Geneva, New York. Elizabeth Miller, who advocated for dress reform using the Turkish style of pants, quickly caught the attention and support of Bloomer. With her newspaper, The Lily, which focused on women’s issues, Amelia popularized the look to the point where her name became associated with the gown.
I have not always used nor understood the point of piping. I didn’t get it. I didn’t know when to use it, and I was pretty sure it was a waste of my time.
And then, I got a bit better at my sewing. So I stopped using excuses as to why I didn’t pipe and finally acknowledged that it was because I didn’t know how to use it at all.
Piping, in this context, refers to a 1 1/2″-2″ wide strip of fabric, cut on the bias, which has then been folded in half with a piece of cording place in between. A tight stitch along the side of the cording creates a smooth finish. This piping is then used in various places on bodices, and occasionally skirts, to add strength, texture, and contrast. The tricky part is you have to keep your stitches tight. I mean tight. You just want to see the cording peeping through in a neat and tidy fashion. And this is where I would become frustrated and give up…I just couldn’t seem to make my stitches tight enough.
So piping was left on the back burner for several years, until one day when I decided to try it again.
I took a deep breath, stitched as close as as could to the cording and would you believe it!!! – It came out perfectly!! In fact, it looked so great, I couldn’t believe I hadn’t been using this technique all along. So now I’m back on the piping train and loving it! And I thought nothing would do but to create a post celebrating this wonderful little technique.
My return to piping on a 1860’s Garibaldi blouse.
Piping is most commonly found around the armsyce, or armhole, of bodices from the early 20th century and back. Here is an example of an 1840’s gown from the Tasha Tudor collection:
Notice the cord like piece between the sleeve gathers and the shoulder? That’s piping! While most commonly used in the same fabric as the gown itself, one can sometimes use coordinating fabric to add a bit of pop!
Piping can also be used in between bodice seams. Notice the very small piping along the back seams of this 1860’s bodice as well as the 1810’s Pelisse.
Piping can also be used to add details to sleeves…
notice the sleeve of this Regency jacket. The piping adds interest.
The same can be said for this 1860’s sleeve where the bands have piped edges.
And let’s not forget the rather advanced skill of putting piping around the edges of bodices to keep a smooth and clean finish!
This 1840’s gold gown has some wonderful examples:
If you have never tried piping, or haven’t in a long time, I highly recommend bringing back this very fun and relatively easy technique!!
If you are interested in getting a different look for your outfit, accessories can make a huge difference! Today, we mostly turn to scarves and jewelry to spice up or alter our clothes. However, these go-tos were not always the first choice in decades past. Many women used what we can think of as “detachable” items that were either pinned, buttoned, or basted onto their clothes. This allowed for everyday clothes to be given a little pick-me-up for a very affordable price. Simply remove for cleaning and then use on any garment that could use a little something extra.
Collars were the most common form of the “detachable” items, although under sleeves, as seen during the Regency era or during the 1850’s-1860’s, were also quite common. Mostly made of stark white cotton, linen, or lace, these little beauties came in various sizes, shapes, and textures.
This 1860’s lace capelet/collar is fascinating as it appears to be covering up an evening gown…perhaps making it more appropriate for daywear!
This woman wears both a detachable collar as well as under sleeves, a very common and economic look during the 1860’s.
Although some color enhancements on this particular 1860’s image highlight the trim, notice the wide Peter Pan collar and ruffled under sleeves.
Here are a few more wonderful examples from the 1860’s of collars, chemisettes, and under sleeves showing the wide variety a woman could create for herself.
Women’s fashion at the turn of the century also featured detachable collars, although I must say they look extremely uncomfortable to wear!
Detachable collars also saw a rebirth during the 1930’s in a wide range of sizes, lengths, and finishes!
So why not create your own detachable item for that blouse or dress that maybe has seen better days!
A few weeks ago, I was contacted by the British men’s clothing company T.M. Lewin. While I never have personally purchased clothing from them, I was very aware of the name and longevity. Established in 1898, they have spent the past one hundred years providing high quality men’s clothing and are well-known for the introduction of the button down shirt. So what, may you ask, is a men’s clothing store doing reaching out to me, a women’s historical clothing blog? Well, the company wished to celebrate 300 years of British influence on men’s fashion and wondered if I would be interested in participating. At first, I wasn’t sure what I could do. I mean, I enjoy men’s clothing, but enough to write about it? I just wasn’t sure. So I thought and spent some time studying the fabulous timeline graphic they sent me, and realized the large connection between men and women’s clothing. I thoroughly enjoyed my time researching and loved finding examples of women’s fashion that directly corresponded with men’s.
So, with all that said, I decided to participate in their celebration…but with my own twist. Below you will find sections of their timeline along with examples of women’s fashion which bears influence and connection….although with a bit more grace and femininity!
I choose to highlight the floral impact on fashion for this particular century. While today, most individuals equate floral prints exclusively as women’s clothing, that was not always the case. Notice the embroidery on the men’s suit, along with the influence on the floral print of the women’s gown below! Both are absolutely stunning!
1770’s Floral Gown from the Digitalt Museum
I have a slight obsession with anything Regency. I just do. So clearly, out of this century, I had to pick something from the 1810’s. And what better choice than showing examples of the riding coat!
1815 Men’s and Women’s Riding Outfits, Kyoto Costume Institute
My second choice to highlight from this century is the Sack Coat from the years 1850-1860. A loose fitting outwear garment that was worn by both men and women. Similar in shape, color and decorations were the two only real ways that this coat differed.
From this century, the first item that stood out to me is the trench coat. A item that is just as popular today as it was a hundred years ago. Similar in color and shape, women tweaked this item to create a coat known as a duster. A handy little item used to protect one’s gown from those dusty automobile rides!
Of course, post on 20th century fashion would not be complete without a little 1940’s love. With the suit a well established staple for men, women, especially during the second world war, followed suit…no pun intended! 🙂 Similar in pattern and shape, both genders embraced the structured look the suit of the 1940’s offered.
This reciprocal exchange of fashion influence will continue to shape fashion for decades, and I daresay, centuries to come. But with tweaks here and there, each gender can appreciate and enjoy something unique!