Now that CoBloWriMo is officially underway and the first prompt (What are your goals for 2016?) has been issued, it’s time to put my bits of blog planning into action! For at least the next few days, I’ll be catching up on projects that have been completed but that I never took the time to write up. First up… one of my favorites: the gigantically-enormously-sleeved roller-printed pink striped 1830s day dress!
Did I mention gi-normous sleeves? Why, yes… I am wearing pillows on my arms! (No, really I am! They’re tied to the inside of the dress, but more on that later…)
This gown was a two-year process to make and was started in time to wear for the annual street festival, Andover Day, in 2014 when I would be participating in a living history open house at the museum where I was working. In my haste to prepare for that event, there were many details that were left unfinished, including all the back closures, hemming & closures at the wrist, neckline inside binding, and basically anything that needed final tacking or topstitching. Let’s just say I was walking around very carefully that day – I had straight pins up and down the back of the dress, throughout piped areas on the bodice and even at my right wrist!
But I’m getting ahead of myself – let’s start with the basics. The fabric is a delicious warm pink and cream wavy stripe – a reproduction print cotton that I fell in love with and purchased locally at Quilter’s Common. They stock a rather stunning array of repro cottons and I usually dream of new gown ideas every time I stop in!
The pattern is the 1830s Romantic Era Dress by Truly Victorian. I have to say that I love this pattern! I did fit the dress over my 1830s stays and with using those related measurements, I had only very minor tweaking at the shoulder area for a perfect fit. As is my usual habit, I did not make a muslin – I just dove in with the good fabric. I used 1/16″ cotton cording for all of the covered piping, picked up from the home dec section at Jo-Ann Fabrics. I have a note to myself to use Coats & Clark Knit-Cro-Sheen crochet cotton for the next time around but have yet to actually pick some up!
The bulk of the interior seams were sewn by machine, and the bodice and sleeves are fully interlined with another light cotton. I regret lining the sleeves as it makes them terribly warm when worn at any temperature over 70°F. Less than ideal for a gown likely to worn for spring/summer/fall outings. And back to the pillows… I used the short puff sleeve sleeve pattern to create a sleeve pouf – similar to this one from the Victoria & Albert Museum. I’m also betting that a down filling would be cooler than the cotton batting I used. Did I mention the sleeve were on the warm side?
To create the proper bell-shaped skirt, I wore three petticoats beneath the dress. First, and closest to my corset was a plain linen petticoat from my 1770’s wardrobe. It’s lighweight and starts to create some bulk at the hem. Over that was a corded organdy petticoat, made following Jennifer Rosborough’s excellent instructions. Lastly, I added a quilted petticoat to add some loft and soften the bell shape. And voila… a lovely 1830s silhouette!
As I sit here typing and trying to recall details so many months later, I’m reminded of the few finishing touches I added before wearing it for Andover Day 2015. I did manage to finish the neckline (self fabric binding to hold the piping to the inside) as well as add hooks and eyes at the center back and both wrists. Some vintage ribbon with paper flowers and leaves at the waist and in my hair were my go-to accessories both years. Maybe for the next wearing I’ll craft an actual belt!
While I did not use sleeve puffs in 2014, I did make and wear them in 2015 and you can see what a difference they make! Here’s my 2014 portrait as taken by Pearl White Studio. Not so gigantic, right?
As the midnight hour approaches and I wind down this entry, I’m still contemplating the initial prompt for CoBloWriMo: goals for 2016. This post, and this dress (even if it’s a past project), are well suited to that theme. One of the first things I did this January was reach out to some like-minded relatively-local costumers to see if we could try to coordinate outings and make some concrete event plans. One of the ideas (goals?) kicked around was a Wives & Daughter’s 1830s theme picnic. As the half-way point of the year approaches, I’m excited to say that those plans are underway and we’re looking forward to fabulous outing in September. And as I pour over old photos, costuming notes, and pinterest images, I’m still loving this gown so maybe I won’t be adding a whole new 1830s ensemble to my 2016 goal list after all.
On the other hand… A belt? A reticule? A pelerine? Now those are some costuming goals I can get behind… and maybe even get ahead of! What a list – I’m off to get some sleep and start dreaming of big-sleeved parties…