“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.
Last Saturday, I had the extreme privilege of being allowed special access to photograph my gowns in and around the historic buildings belonging to the Buffalo Niagara Heritage Village. This museum not only features many wonderful exhibits for both young and old, but they also have twelve historical buildings that have been painstakingly and lovingly returned to historical accuracy. A truly wonderful place for the whole family where you can take a step back in time!
Here are a few outside pictures of the buildings apart of this wonderful village!
Aren’t they stunning!? Sigh….
Anyways! This past Saturday, I loaded up a a variety of gowns, two great friends, and spent a fabulous afternoon enjoying the warm sunshine and all things historical!!
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!!
What better way to start off the new year than with a historical fashion shoot! This particular shoot highlighted two new 1770’s gown I created last month. Which was a miracle I was able to get any sewing done, since I spent quite a few weeks hugging the toilet….I’m four months pregnant just in case you missed last week’s post! 🙂
Anyways!!! I am so happy to be feeling better and what better way to celebrate than with a wonderful snowy day and some wonderful photographs. So with a big thank you to my model Cassandra, here are a few of my favorite images from this fun photo adventure!
Both gown are currently for sale on my Etsy Shop along with many new Regency custom order listings!
Well, now I’m going to grab a snack and go work on a 1916 skirt….fingers crossed!!
Which came first for me? Learning to sew by hand or by machine? I’m sitting here trying to remember….I think it was by hand first? Maybe? Regardless, when I did learn to sew by hand, I remember as a young girl, sitting as patiently as possible with some old scrap of calico, trying to get my stitches as even and neat as possible. You know, like Laura Ingalls Wilder had to do when she was a child. I remember really struggling with not bunching up the thread on the back side of the fabric, and trying to make sure knots didn’t form on the thread itself….it was a very stressful experience! 🙂 But, like so many things in life, the more practice and time I put in, the easier and better looking my hand sewing became.
This is why when I see any examples of hand sewing so stunning that one questions if a machine did it, it makes me simply giddy with envy and happiness. Whoever that person was who created that magnificent item, valued and understood the importance of practice, practice, practice. A needed skill and character trait that is so important when trying to better oneself. I’ve collected four pictures of such garments that really show the skill and detail of really, I mean really, high quality hand sewing!
Let’s begin with this late 1700’s bodice. I mean, look at all that hand detail! The stitches, the curves, the ruffles….. absolutely gorgeous!!
These stays also show the skill and hand strength needed to create small, identical stitches through very stiff fabric and boning!
The back of this bodice also shows the delicate hand stitching that can really take a garment up to the next level:
And of course, the most amazing of all is this 1820’s bonnet, complete with tatting, that shows not only a person’s skill, but the needed height to accommodate the hairstyle of the period!
Even in the age of computerized sewing machines, high quality hand sewing is still a much needed and much appreciated skill!
I am going to a wedding this weekend and, of course, when a major event requires you to dress up….you suddenly have “nothing to wear.” Well, let me be the first to say that I have plenty to wear in my closet. And I am sure if I dug deep enough, I would have found something that would have done a passably good job. But this is a very good friend’s wedding and, well, do I want to look just passably good? Heck no! So, off I went to the mall this past week in search for the perfect dress. Now, normally when a person is determined to find a certain item, it always turns out that you can’t find anything. But not this time!! The fashion gods were beaming their good graces down upon me and dress upon dress was looking and feeling great. But it wasn’t until I slipped on a wild card that the bells of discovery clanged loudly!
This out of the box, never thought it would work, item was a emerald green velvet dress. This very one in fact:
Now, I haven’t worn velvet since I was seven years old. Strangely enough it was also an emerald green velvet dress that was two sizes too big…but when you’re seven, you don’t get caught up on those types of details. Anyway, I was nervous about this particular dress. Could I pull off such a classy and fitted style? I know that velvet is fabric that never goes out of style…but that doesn’t mean that it was something I should snap up right away without giving it a good thought. So I did…and well, its currently hanging up in my closet! 🙂
It is easy to think that fabric is just fabric. That as long as it forms the shape you need, it is forgettable. I disagree. Some fabric has a life and a character all its own…and has the power to secure a fond memory somewhere in your brain. Velvet is such a fabric. I have worn many Easter dresses in my time….but I will always remember the one when I was seven, because , well, it was velvet. And I am most certain that our foremothers felt the same way. I mean, take a look at these stunning, green velvet creations from the 1880’s-1890’s
I am sure the lucky women who were able to wear these gowns thought back on them with fondness…and I hope I am able to do the same! 🙂