I previously posted about the drafting method used to pattern my Saratoga Dress bodice, so in this post I am going to talk about the actual sewing of the bodice, with lots of in-process photos.
In order to construct the skirt of the Saratoga dress, I relied on a combination of basic printed patterns, draping, and drafts of extant patterns reprinted in books to get the look that I was going for. The original skirt looks like it consists of several layers of overlapping fabric, so a lot of experimentation had to be done to get the angles and overlaps right.
Once I had chosen the dress for my project, I had to develop a pattern for the bodice. I didn’t want to simply use a paper pattern that had already been developed by someone else; I wanted to do my best to draft a new pattern that would mimic the original image as closely as possible. For this I turned to Fashions of the Gilded Age by Frances Grimble.
Even before applying for the grant for this project, ideas were swirling in my head about what dress to do and how to do it. There were several images that I had come across in the collections at the Saratoga Springs Public Library that I thought could work, and a couple of them stood out in my mind, but once I was actually awarded the grant I went back to the collections to get a better idea of all of the options.
My focus was on the Robert Joki Stereoview Collection at the library because the library owns approximately 1,400 of them. There are a lot of options. And while the individual images on the cards are a bit small, when scanned at high resolution they scale up really well. The library had a local organization scan all 1,400(ish) of their stereoviews a few years ago, so it was just a matter of looking through and saving the ones I was considering (the images were all taken and published for sale pre-1890, so their copyrights have expired and they are now in the public domain. This eliminates the need for getting permission to publish, alter, and use them for advertising and other projects, short of crediting the library for providing me with the scans).
The more I looked at the images, the more intriguing dresses I found, and what I had thought were my top two choices were quickly crowded out by an abundance of other options.
I’ve been posting about this on Facebook and Instagram for about a month already, but this is my official blog announcement about a project I will be working on this year!
Almost one year after completing my pink Natural Form ballgown, I completed a new ballgown for a new event. I tried to go the quick and easy route with this one, so I purchased a pattern rather than draft one, and kept it simple to let the silk fabric speak for itself.
One of the most distinct things about fashions of the 1830s is over-the-top hair. One cannot complete an 1830s outfit without it, so although I often get lazy and can end up skimping on my hair arrangements for my historical outfits, I had to at least try to do something with my hair for my 1830s ball outfit.
Back in November I heard that a local Historical Society would be hosting an “1830s costume ball” in March 2019, so I decided it was finally time to join the crowd of costumers who have been making 1830s ensembles recently. We bought a house at the end of November and spent December moving and painting, but in January I was able to get my new sewing room organized and start my underthings.
I knew I wouldn’t have time to make brand new period-appropriate corded stays, so right away I decided to cheat and just wear my mid-century corset under the dress (sorry not sorry). The corded petticoat was a must, however, to get the correct bell shape for the 1830s skirt. I had purchased Izabela Pitcher’s Victorian Dressmaker book back in November(ish), so I primarily used her corded petticoat pattern and instructions for guidance.
There has always been something about a frothy pink Natural Form era gown that has caught my fancy. Any time I came across paintings of heavily trimmed pink Natural Form gowns on Tumblr I would fall in love all over again.
When Prior Attire announced the date for their 2018 Victorian Ball in Bath, and that the theme would be Natural Form era, I decided it was time to finally make my pink confection, and to take a chance and go to the UK for the first time–for a costume event!
Very long, so please click to read more!
Well. It’s been a lot longer between posts than I meant for it to be. I’ve been drowning in a project that I started back in December and fought with right up to April 1st, and it took up so much of my time and caused me so much doubt and frustration, that although I meant to write a post about my Victorian corset, I haven’t been able to until now.
This corset gave me a bit of trouble, and in the middle of it last year it felt like it was weighing on me quite a bit (though now I know how much worse it could be, after the project I’ve just finished…). But it did turn out very well in the end, and once it got finished I was quite happy with it, and boy is it comfy to wear, too!