Tuesday, November 26, 2013

From Hoop Skirt to Bustle

Soon is a relative term. But hey, under a week isn't bad, right? Before my promised post about the transition from the hoop skirt of the 1860s to the bustle of the 1880s, I must report on my progress on Vogue 2401. So far I've cut out all the pieces, including interfacing (a sew-in one this time), and lined the bodice pieces. Although the pattern doesn't call for the bodice to be lined, I really think it should be lined if you're using a silky, somewhat thin, material like I am. This has taken quite some time, more than I anticipated. But this part at least is done. Now I can actually start constructing the dress!

On to business...

For a while now I've been interested in how women's fashion got from the humongous hoop skirts of the 1850s-60s to the bustles of the 70s and 80s. How, I ask myself did we get from this:

(Englishwoman's Domestic Magazine, 1862)

To this:
1875- Scottish plaids gained favor and fashionability in the midst of the 1870's- this one also featured frilled skirting sweeping the floor, a bowed bustle and a modicum of attitude.
(Philadelphia Museum of Art 1875)

Well I found my answer thumbing through Janet's Arnold's Patterns of Fashion Vol. 2.

The answer? The gored skirt.

Gored skirts, its turns out are very versatile. They could be used to create the hoop dresses of the civil war era, (provided a crinoline and/or a hoop was worn) or a nice transition dress this like one:
(V&A, 1869-1870)

The difference, aside from the undergarments, would be the shape of the gored panels. A full-blown 1860s dress would have gores that looked more similar in length and overall shape. The transition dress of the late 60s/ early 70s would have had longer gored panels for the back train of the skirt. The front panels would be shorter. This, at least, is what I have ascertained from Ms. Arnold's wonderful sketches in PoF. This it seems, is a trend that carried over into the bustle period. So there ya go, mystery solved!

Now, back to the 1950s!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Do I need a new dress? No, but so what!

So I finished the 40s blouse last week. And I actually wore it! Its pretty comfy, nice and loose. Not exactly the retro look I had expected, but its a nice addition to my wardrobe. So with the holidays coming up I thought why not make a dress? A nice, satiny, shiny, look-like-a-million-bucks dress. I pored over my patterns for several days. I don't know why it takes me so long to decide, it just does. There were several in my stash I thought about making, some really snazzy ones too. And then I came to my vintage vogue patterns. Some of these I've had for about 4 years now, intending on making them, but never actually, well, making them.

I've been a little intimidated by them. They're beautiful, yes, but complicated looking. But I bucked up, and chose one of the "intermediate" level ones. (We'll see if it is really intermediate) Its Vogue 2401, a 1952 design, with quite the collar:

The red one has longer sleeves. I'm going with that one, mostly because I forgot to shorten the sleeve piece before I cut the fabric. What fabric am I using you ask? Its a magenta, satin. Probably polyester, yes I know, but i got it very cheap. A good thing too, because this dress calls for almost 6 yards. Yesh! Typical vintage style, nothing compared to historical dresses though!

Ironing such a big piece takes a while, let me tell you
it still ended up wrinkled when it came to cutting

Currently the pattern pieces and dress pieces are residing on the living floor in a heap. Soon it will take shape! Holidays here I come!

On the horizon? Well, other than making this dress? I've been thinking about posting on reconstruction era dresses (late 1860s). I'm quite interested in the transition from the huge hoop skirts of the civil war era, to the "natural" form of the 1870s and the bustle skirts of the 1880s. The reconstruction era (to me anyways) seems like a forgotten era in historical fashion, much like the 1830s. 

Look for this post soon!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Finished- Simplicity 40s Blouse

Yeah! Finished another blouse. Simplicity 1692 was pretty easy, nothing unexpected. I'm pretty pleased with the fit too! Its a bit loose, so comfortable and contemporary, even though it is a 40s design. The sleeves are attached to the front and back pieces, so I didn't even have to separately attach sleeves, which is awesome. The only thing about the pattern that I felt wasn't necessary was the zipper. If you make the blouse loose enough like I did (I followed the sizing on the pattern, if you want a tighter fit maybe size down one size), or if your fabric has any stretch to it, the zipper is not needed. The blouse slips over my head, even though I didn't add the buttons.

I did add the zipper, to be safe:
seriously, probably the first time I didn't have to redo, or do any seam ripping on the zipper

See all the fraying? The silky fabric I used definitely needed this:
Put on seams, this great stuff stops the fraying. It does smell, and it will get on your fingers and dry like glue. But for a fabric like this one, totally crucial.

Here's a picture of a seam with the seam glue:
The dark spot along the edge is where the fray glue is applied. Apply it on the wrong side!

After this was just a bunch of hemming, blah.

Here's the finished product:

Yeah, the color is totally different in each picture. The actual color is between these two.
Happy Sewing!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Progress on Simplicity 1692

Whew, am I pooped. Our little puppy has been quite a handful lately. On top of that, I got a flu shot last Friday and I think it had some kind of effect. I've been sleeping a lot lately. But....I have made progress on the 40s blouse! I decided to go with view D minus the buttons on the shoulders. At first I thought the buttons were decorative, but it turns out they are actually functional. Nevertheless, I decided to go without them; I'm not a big fan of things dangling from or around my shoulders. As a result, the neck hole is rather small, but I can still get my head through it without a lot of grief so I'm keeping it that way.

A few nights ago I cut out all the pieces:
A good chunk of fabric left over, but not enough for any of my patterns. Save it for trim? (btw, I think my fabric my actually be 100% rayon, not sure though) I also had to cut out some interfacing for the collar area. I used a lightweight fusible interfacing like the pattern says to. You probably wouldn't want anything to heavy if you're using silky, light fabric like I am.

There are two tucks on the front that give the front some structure.

Next I sewed the shoulder seams of the silky fabric together, giving the blouse a real poncho look...yuck! (ponchos are weird)

Next came the back and front facing(s) for the collar area.
Step one: fuse interfacing to fabric pieces, making sure the iron is stinking hot:

Step two: when dry, (it takes a while) sew shoulder seams of these fused pieces (no pics, it was late and I was tired)
Step three: pin these pieces to the neck edge of blouse and hope it turns out neat enough (again, no pics of this part)

Finally, press the back and front facing pieces inward so they don't pop out:

So the blouse still has a distinct poncho look, but its coming together. Next comes side seams, zipper, and hemming. So far this blouse has been pretty easy. If you like 40s clothing and can sew, I highly encourage you to try this pattern. Its easy and doesn't use a lot of fabric, a good pattern for using up any stash fabric! 

Well that's all I have for today, 
Happy Sewing!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Another Possible Blouse on the Horizon

So I've been getting the itch. The itch to sew something.After looking at all my patterns and my stock of fabric, I think I've decided to make another blouse. I know, not as glamorous as a big, fancy circle skirt dress, but I don't exactly wear those everyday. I want to have some more realistic vintage pieces in my wardrobe, things I might actually wear on a daily basis. So I don't have a lot of blouse patterns, but there is one in my collection I've been wanting to make for a while: Simplicity 1692
Isn't that cute? And although it is distinctly retro, I feel like this blouse looks contemporary too. The modeled version looks especially contemporary. Which version am I thinking of? Well, possibly C or D. But if I make version D I am not adding the ric rack. Not a big fan. Not sure if I would add the buttons at the shoulders on version C either. Sort of a cute idea, but odd.

I have some silky dark blue fabric in my stash. I'm not sure what the fiber content is, I'm guessing at best it is part rayon. Oh well, it was affordable. And the drape is nice, just enough weight to make it practical for everyday wear.

Who knows I might change my mind. I just discovered that Simplicity has another blouse pattern for the 40s that I don't have: #1590

I'm loving the tied bow are the back of B. Not sure if that would be a good idea for me since I have, how-do-you-say some 'junk in the trunk!' But still quite pretty.

That's all I have for today!

images courtesy of sewing.patternreview.com

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Romantic Era corsets and the New (but really old) Silhouette

To follow up with my last post on regency stays and silhouettes, I want talk a little about the subsequent era of fashion: the romantic era. Roughly from 1820-1840, the romantic era followed the regency era. This era in fashion saw a lowered waistline, going from the regency era where the waistline was just below the bust, to a few inches above the natural waistline. What, you may ask was responsible for this?

The return of the honest-to-goodness corset. Dun dun dun....

Unlike the short stays of the regency era that were relatively comfortable and bra-esq, the corsets of the romantic era returned to the squeezing function of corsets of the 18th century. Although romantic era corsets were not as heavily boned, the waist cinching idea was still the same.

Regard this example from the Kyoto Museum (1820):

 1820 American corset

The busk is stiff, probably wood or ivory, and the corset receives its shape from cording, or light boning. There is also an attempt at hip gusseting.

Here another example from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (1830s):
File:Sleeve plumpers.jpg
Like the other example, the hips flare out, while the waist is cinched above the natural waistline. Unlike the previous example, this corset is laced. Another thing to note about romantic era corsets: the boobs are separated. While regency stays attempted to push the bust upwards by compressing the and pushing  the bust together, these corsets separated the boobies!

This image also demonstrates the return to petticoats during the romantic era. Unlike the regency era where petticoats were largely abandoned in favor of a more natural appearing figure, the romantic era saw a return to puffy skirts, which often meant not just one, but at least two layers of petticoats! These were also corded, and helped make the waist appear smaller. Can you imagine how much all this must have weighed? Women must have gotten their exercise just walking around in this stuff!

Want to see some dresses that demonstrate the results of romantic underwear? Yeah I though so, here ya go:

The Met (1825-1830)

The Met (1832-1835)

Walking ensemble
The Met (1835)

Images and research courtesy of:
The Met

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Regency Stays, a Change in Silhouette

Boy am I pooped! We got a new puppy! And, perhaps needless-to-say he's a handful. Oh well, he's sweet and very very cute! Here's a gratuitous puppy picture:

Now, back to business. Since I've completed my latest sewing project, I'm between projects right now (not to mention tired:). I thought I'd talk a little bit about a topic of interest to me and others interested in regency fashion: regency stays.

Now the regency stay is often referred to as the "short corset." Unlike the corsets of the 18th century and the Victorian Era, the regency corset drew the waistline up just below the bust. This pushed the bust up, (often creating that heaving bosom thing) and let the waist be unconstrained. The short stays are closer to the modern bra than corsets from the 18th century and Victoria era. 

Here's a pictorial example:

From what I've read, the front of the stays were reinforced with a wooden busk (some say whalebone, some don't). The rest of the corset was corded. They were more of support garments rather than the figure altering styles of the previous and subsequent eras. As with these other eras, regency stays were worn over a chemise.Over this was the dress! Isn't that scandalous?! I can only imagine Victorian women saying "What no petticoats, no corset covers, no drawers!?!?"

As you can see from the picture, the top was drawstringed. I can only imagine this helped push the bust up even farther. Something that interests me on the shorter version is the side. Quite stretchy! I know I've read about this sewing technique, but can't remember its exact name. Anyone know?

I've worn a steel-boned corset before, and all I can say is these look soooo much more comfortable!

Here's an illustration from 1811 depicting regency stays:

a bit of lacing, but nothing too serious

The result of short stays on the silhouette? A much more natural, free shape. The shape took its inspiration from classical Greek statuary- free-flowing. (Well, all except the boobs, very high)

From the bust down, the figure is free

another high bust, funny even the head wear/hairstyles look Grecian

Contrast these silhouettes with one from 1760-1769:

And one from later in 1858-1860:
Both good examples of constraining corsets!

Well that's all I have for now!

images and research courtesy of:
Victorian and Albert Museum