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

Cat Print Grainline Alder Dress

Cat Print Alder Dress

I don’t know why it took me so long to make this pattern – it’s a fantastic pattern, as I would expect from Grainline. Maybe it’s the fact that I don’t often wear sleeveless tops/dresses? Although, this dress may be the one that breaks that habit.

Cat Print Alder Dress

This’ll be a short and sweet post. Not much to say about this dress other than praise. It’s not very fitted at the waist so I like the scooped side hem. The shorter length in the front and sides helps balance out the looseness, I think.


Cat Print Alder Dress

Cat Print Alder Dress

The pattern is Grainline’s Alder dress and I made no significant changes to fit or design other than slightly adjusting the pocket placement.

Cat Print Alder Dress

Jen at Grainline is a genius when it comes to armholes – she drafts them perfect every time. No gaping, no pulling, not too low or too high. And the armscye works for everyone – even if you need to do an FBA/SBA on her patterns, you don’t have to mess with those armholes. It’s like the Goldilocks armhole.

Cat Print Alder Dress

This cute print is from Stitch Lab here in Austin. It’s a quilting cotton but it works well for this pattern. The little round kitties on this print are so much fun – it’s like wearing Neko Atsume on your body.

The simple plastic buttons are from my stash.

Cat Print Alder Dress

I always get compliments on it when I wear it because of the print. People love cats!

Game of Thrones: Margaery Tyrell Cosplay

Margaery Tyrell Cosplay

This whole costume turned out much better than I anticipated so be ready for an abundance of photos in this post. If you want to see more pics, check out my Flickr album.

Margaery Tyrell Cosplay

I also promise to keep this post as spoiler free as possible.

margaerydress

So, why Game of Thrones? Why Margaery? Well, the costumes on that show are fantastic. And GoT has no shortage of fabulous lady characters of all types but I like Margaery’s character for several reasons. As a young queen she’s clever and ambitious. Tenacious, self-serving but at times truly kind. She’s loyal to her family but is always looking out for #1. She knows how to play the game and she does it with flair.

Margaery Tyrell Cosplay

And she is played superbly by the lovely Natalie Dormer whom I first watched on The Tudors many years ago (her signature smirk is difficult to mimic, I tried my best).

Margaery Tyrell Cosplay

But in the end, I thought I could figure out how to design one of her iconic costumes without needing to use a pattern.

Let’s talk about the dress. After assessing pictures of the real costume, I used the highly accurate method of “Let’s See if This Works” to design my version.  I did a combo of flat pattern manipulation, draping, and excessive pinning until I got a bodice shape that worked.

Margaery Tyrell Cosplay

From the production stills, it looks like a wrap front gown with skirt gores. So I designed a cross-over front with hooks and eyes for closure.

As for the skirt, I measured my waist, divided it by six, added seam allowances and cut 7 gores (one for overlapping in the front) that widened at the hem. I lined the skirt and the bodice with white muslin.

Margaery Tyrell Cosplay

The shoulder bits wrap over from front and attach at the back sides. There’s actually a trapezoidal shaped piece under the neck connecting the two shoulder pieces in the real version but for mine, I decided to simply make the shoulder parts wider to meet in the middle.

The main bodice fabric is some poly brocade from Joann, a lucky find as I struggled for months to find a suitable design with the correct colors. The only problem – it frays and snags easily.

Margaery Tyrell Cosplay

The shoulders are a stretch velvet, also from Joann, stiffened with some deco-bond-like Pellon interfacing for handbags, and are attached by hand tack stitches in a few spots along the bodice.

Margaery Tyrell Cosplay

The skirt used voile from Fabric Wholesale Direct. It was cheap, wide, and the perfect color.

I lined the skirt and the bodice with white muslin.

Margaery Tyrell Cosplay

What to do with my hair kept me from taking photos for so long. I hate wigs, usually, but I had to admit, my natural hair wasn’t going to cut it. So I bought Arda Wigs’ Grace Classic in Light Brown. I still don’t enjoy having an itchy, sweaty scalp but for less than $40 it was the perfect hair for this costume and I’m glad used it.

Margaery Tyrell Cosplay

Finally, the belt. Margaery hails from Highgarden so flowers play a major part in her costume motif. Her house motto is “Growing Strong.” I purchased my resin rose belt from this Etsy seller (highly recommended, but it looks like she’s no longer making it. You could always send her a message and ask). The belt is attached with skinny ties on either side sewn into the waist seam.

Margaery Tyrell Cosplay

I’ll try wearing this cosplay to the local Comic Con in the fall. I had better wear it while I can, the final season of the show comes out next year!

Red Rayon McCall’s 7381

McCall's 7381 Rayon Dress

The photos of this dress were taken at the launch party for my friend Melissa’s brand new sewing book, Sundressing. Check it out – the book features designs for both women and girls and shows you how to alter a simple bodice block into all sorts of fun summery dress designs.

Sundressing-book

I finished this dress at the last minute, the day of the party. The details can be difficult to see with this fabrc so here’s the line drawing:

m7381

This rayon came from… I’m actually not sure where but I’ve had it for years. I at one time cut out some sleeves from it. I don’t know where the rest of the shirt/dress those sleeves were to be attached to are now however…

McCall's 7381 Rayon Dress

The pattern is McCall’s 7381 version C. I liked the front ties and back elastic waist. I sewed a size 12 but I think this pattern has too much ease. I’ll go down a size next time. I helped combat the ease by tightening that elastic in back but the dress is still a tag big in the shoulders and bust.

McCall's 7381 Rayon Dress

The only bit I messed up: I gathered the sleeves. I misinterpreted the “ease-between-dots” dots as “gather-between-dots” dots. But since the cap gathered so well it makes me wonder just how much extra ease was built into that sleeve cap? Oh, well. It doesn’t really affect the dress at all.

McCall's 7381 Rayon Dress

Maybe it’s the rayon or the stitched down pleats at the skirt and shoulders, but this dress has a vaguely 1940s vibe.

Justin says I look like a candy cane, and I say “why you gotta hate?”

McCall's 7381 Rayon Dress

Anyway, I love this dress. It works perfectly in a drapey rayon. The method of construction seemed more sophisticated than other Big 4 patterns I’ve used in the past, specifically regarding the bodice. I would have expected them to pull some unnecessary hand sewing nonsense in the lining attachment but they didn’t.

McCall's 7381 Rayon Dress

The way the front bodice piece attaches to the lining to create the ties is rather clever and the cross-over panel in center front closes with snaps. The slightly upcurved waistline in front is a nice detail as well.  The overlap in front is held together by 3 snaps. All in all, this is a great little frock perfect for everyday wear and for parties!