Historical Costuming: 1840s day dress and bonnet

1840s Day Dress and Bonnet

After what seems like years I’ve finally finished my 1840s costume. I completed the dress months ago but the bonnet languished unfinished until recently.

1840s Day Dress and Bonnet

Underneath all of this, I’m wearing my Victorian undergarments (including four petticoats!), silk stockings and brown leather ballet flats (not exactly period accurate but close enough for now).

Let’s talk about this dress:

1840s Day Dress and Bonnet

The pattern is Laughing Moon Mercantile #114 with some minor adjustments. I made View B but with the flat back of View C. I added velvet ribbon on the sleeves based on some extant dress which I can no longer find online. The sleeves of View B are actually three layers (difficult to see in this print), the uppermost layer is pleated three times, hence three rows of ribbon.

1840s Day Dress and Bonnet

The rose print fabric came from Joann. Is it period accurate? Not exactly, but I have seen red and white cotton extant dresses from the time period.

1840s Day Dress and Bonnet

I also had to sew several more rows of gathers in the center “fan” front at the waist to rein in all that excess fabric. From other reviews I have read, this seems to be a common fix.

1840s Day Dress and Bonnet

Other than that, the dress fit me quite well out of the envelope with the exception of some ripples on the back. Not sure if that is due to my corset or if I simply need to slice off some of the length in the back.

1840s Day Dress and Bonnet

If I were to make this pattern again in View B I would choose a much thinner fabric. The fabric I used was too thick at the armhole seam (this style has very dropped shoulders). With added piping, that seam had 5 layers in it!

1840s Day Dress and Bonnet

The skirt is cartridge pleated. I did this so long ago now, back when I was a beginner at costuming. If I were to do it again, I’d make my pleats smaller and tighter.

1840s Day Dress and Bonnet

The dress closes in back with hooks and eyes so you need help to put it on.

1840s Day Dress and Bonnet

This “coal scuttle” bonnet is what kept me from finishing this costume. It seemed a daunting task to create an entire buckram and wire framed bonnet from scratch but it wasn’t that difficult to sew when I actually sat down to do it. The pattern is Timely Tresses’ Ada Gray mid 1840s bonnet. It’s mostly hand sewn.

1840s Day Dress and Bonnet

The main fabric is ivory silk taffeta from some website I don’t remember now. The ribbon is also from Timely Tresses. The feather and vintage velvet flowers are from Etsy. The body of the bonnet is lined with linen and gathered white lace. The bravolet (the little skirt in back) is lined in net.

1840s Day Dress and Bonnet

The date I was going for with this outfit is 1847 which is right around the time Texas joined the Union. These pics were taken on a short overnight trip to Leakey, Texas on the Frio River in the Texas Hill Country. I might be able to wear this outfit to some kind of Texas history event but for now, it’s just another fun costume to have.

1840s Day Dress and Bonnet

Another Archer and #SewingCommunityGives

Grainline Archer

Another day, another Archer.

Grainline Archer

I’ve now made Grainline’s Archer shirt more than any other pattern. What can I say, I love this pattern! A classic button-down shirt with an easy fit and no darts? Sign me up!

Grainline Archer

This pink and blue cotton is from The Cloth Pocket (where these photos were taken and where I’m teaching some classes this month) and these perfect pink buttons are from a defunct local store.

Grainline Archer

For this Archer, I cut pockets, placket, yoke, cuffs, and collar on the bias. This plaid isn’t perfectly square which made it difficult to get the angle of the lines perfect, but I like the result.

Grainline Archer

Instead of pleating the center back under the yoke, I gathered the fabric.

Grainline Archer

Now onto something a little more serious…

Sewing Community Gives

Ya’ll know I don’t often get personal on this blog but today I’m making an exception. A few weeks ago, Erin over at Seamstress Erin messaged some pattern designers, bouncing around this idea to harness the power of the online sewing-sphere to give back to our communities.

I think Erin was expressing a desire that many of us share: a growing need to contribute, to share, to show love and compassion in the wake of an election season that, no matter who you supported, weighed heavily on all of us and capped out a year that for many was filled with struggle and mourning.

This sentiment struck a chord with me as lately, I have been challenging myself to do more. After the election, many probably feel like I do, that I didn’t do “enough.”

Enough of what and how much that means, I’m not exactly sure. But I do know that I can no longer be content with a kind of passive activism, expecting those impacted by bad policy to fight for change while I sit on the sidelines being “supportive” but not doing the work. I can no longer use shyness or anxiety as an excuse for not putting myself out there and making a difference. I can no longer dismiss my own implicit biases but instead must educate myself about other people’s experiences.

I am in a unique position. With no kids or a typical job, I have plenty of more time to devote to causes and because of that, I have a responsibility to do more. For me, 2016 was a tremendous year of personal growth and I feel I can take that energy I’ve accumulated and put it to use in 2017.

So what have I done to get off the couch/facebook and do the work? Well, in just the past few months I was a poll worker for two elections. I’ve joined organizations that share my values, including the League of Women Voters. I’ve donated money and volunteered to lobby for legislation I believe in. I’ve marched. I’ve attended meetings. I’ve called my senators and representatives (and it gets less scary each time I do it). I’ve visited my state legislators’ offices and met my new state rep – twice! I’ve met my city council member and visited one of my US Senator’s office. I’ve read memoirs by Supreme Court Justices, histories of segregation and the Civil War, and biographies of suffragists.

Sewing Community Gives

If you, too, are feeling inspired to do more (or to continue the good work you’ve been doing), join us for #SewingCommunityGives!

With #SewingCommunityGives, Erin is inviting sewists to pledge their time, energy and/or funds to help their local and global community this week January 16-22.

To celebrate, you can fill out this survey to tally everyone’s collective contribution and enter to win one of five fantastic pattern prize packs (including one of my patterns)!

If you’re looking for ideas, here are a few local Austin charities that I’ve volunteered for/supported in the past:

  • GirlStart educates young girls in STEM fields through camps and after school programs.
  • SafePlace is a shelter for victims of domestic violence and also runs Eloise House, one of the only places in Central Texas where sexual assault survivors can get a rape kit done.
  • Casa Marianella is an emergency homeless shelter for recently immigrated families, refugees, and asylum seekers.
  • OutYouth provides programs, services, and counseling to LBGT+ young people.

I can’t wait to see how much we can accomplish together!!

BurdaStyle Book Blouse – Travel Print

Burda Book Blouse - Travel Print
Happy New Year! This shirt was my final make of 2016 and is now my first post of 2017.

This is my third version of the blouse pattern from the BurdaStyle Sewing Handbook.

bs_blouse_large

If you know me, then you know I love me some peplums. It’s not everyone’s favorite style but it’s mine. Now you might be thinking “Geez, Dixie, isn’t the peplum a little too 2011 by now?” and I would say, “You can pry my peplums out of my cold dead fingers!! #PeplumsForever #Blessed”

Burda Book Blouse - Travel Print

My first version of this pattern was made four years ago(!!!) and it’s about time to be retired.

That version used the most amazing silk charmeuse print with what I can only describe as an “Asian toile” design. So when I fell in love with this awesome metallic gold-on-navy cityscape I knew I found a replacement for my old favorite shirt.

Burda Book Blouse - Travel Print

I can’t tell if this is a lawn/voile or simply an exceptional quality quilting cotton but I bought it locally at Stitch Lab (which is sadly closing this year).

I made several design changes in an attempt to keep this fantastic print as intact as possible.

Burda Book Blouse - Travel Print

The pattern design features princess seams in front, and center front and back seams. I took the original pattern pieces, sliced off the seam allowance and taped them together them to make one solid back piece and front piece.

Burda Book Blouse - Travel Print

After combining the princess seamlines, I converted the “dart” space leftover into gathers at the shoulder yoke.

I turned the original neckline slit into a short “V” and adjusted the facings accordingly.

I lowered the sleeve cap a little but kept the gathers. Just a personal preference but I think the original sleeve cap is too high, making the gathers stand up awkwardly if you don’t heavily press them down.

Burda Book Blouse - Travel Print

I also lengthened the sleeves a few inches and shortened the cuffs by about an inch total. In the original version the sleeves end oddly right about at the elbow but I wanted more of a true 3/4 length sleeve.

Burda Book Blouse - Travel Print

Finally, I included elastic in the waist rather than ties in the casing.

If you look closely (don’t!) you’ll see that one of the cuffs is upside down but to that I’ll simply refer to my new sewing motto: “How much do I care? Not enough.”

Burda Book Blouse - Travel Print

This fabric is so fun and shiny! It makes me happy just looking at it. There’s London, Paris, Mt. Fuji, Giza, Sydney and more. It comes in a couple more colorways so if you can find it locally or online I definitely recommend picking some up!

Burda Book Blouse - Travel Print

I’ll post a big year-in-review post later but until then I’ll leave you with this great video from Google that really summed up well all my feelings from the past year.

Happy New Year, everyone. And may 2017 be your best year yet!

Deer and Doe Lupin Jacket

Deer and Doe Lupin Jacket

You guys — I looooooooovvvvveeee this jacket! The Lupin Jacket by French pattern company Deer and Doe is a cute cropped, fully lined jacket that is perfect for Texas’ not-quite-winters.

I love the princess seams in front, the epaulettes, the light gathers at the waistline and cuffs, the floppy lapels, everything! Yes, I’m gushing but this is a great jacket for me and my climate right now. 10/10 would sew again!

Deer and Doe Lupin Jacket

(does anyone else think of Harry Potter when you hear the word Lupin? It’s not a word you hear often in English.)

The shell fabric came from The Cloth Pocket (these photos were also taken at the awesome mural outside their new building!). I’d describe it as medium-lightweight. It’s light enough to make the lapels hang nicely by thick enough to supply some warmth.

What’s great about it is the gold sparkle comes from threads woven into the fabric rather than glitter stuck into the fibers or “glued” on top. That means the metallic can’t be washed out or ironed off (which I have experienced, much to my disappointment).

Deer and Doe Lupin Jacket

The lining is some plain black cotton voile, the source of which I can’t remember. Metal buttons from Joann.

Deer and Doe Lupin Jacket

Once I finally got everything cut out and organized, the jacket came together rather quickly.

I appreciate that the lining isn’t simply a copy of the shell, but slightly bigger in places to allow for movement. The assembly was different than what I would have expected but I liked the method they used — similar to the bag-lining technique but you finish by sewing the waistband rather than an interior sleeve lining seam.

Deer and Doe Lupin Jacket

My only change, I added a button and buttonhole at the waistband. I’ve seen this done on a few other people’s makes but it’s not included in the pattern. I wanted the option of closing the jacket if I needed to. Plus, these buttons came with 3 on a card.

Deer and Doe Lupin Jacket

I topstitched most seams in black thread but it’s only visible up close.

All in all, I’m quite pleased! As you can tell. I’ve sewn two other Deer and Doe patterns (and have one unfinished) but this is my first completed photoshoot. I’ve enjoyed using their patterns. I’m only surprised it took me this long to make them!

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Class Update!

I’m going to be teaching a class next week at the Cloth Pocket in Austin on the Washi Dress! And the week after that is my Sewaholic Pacific Leggings Class. Click the links for more info!