About Lauren

A costume history nerd and wife, I live in Southern California with my husband and two kitties. I love costume history from the 18th century through the 1950s, but the Edwardian era and the 1930s are my long time favorites.

Part 2: Suit-A-Long. What fabric do I buy?

Welcome to the second post in the Suit A Long!

Last time we covered what type of pattern to order.  Now, while you’re either waiting for your pattern to arrive or printing and assembling your e-pattern, let’s talk fabrics!

We’re currently in Spring here in the USA, so I’ll be focusing on fabrics that are appropriate for Spring and Summer.

I’m personally making an unlined summer suit.  Because of this, I’m not covering linings or wools or proper tailoring in this sew-a-long.  Instead I’m focusing on the basic suit construction for an untailored suit.  You can get as crazy with tailoring as you want, and I’ll cheer you from the sidelines, but I’m doing a simpler style for mine :)

- - What about seam finishes? – -

I’m going to be using seam binding for mine.  I use 100% rayon seam binding (if you google Hug Snug, you can buy yourself a bolt in the color you want for relatively cheaply).  Seam binding like this is entirely period correct.  This type of finish is what we not think of as “Hong Kong seams.”

But I digress.  Just making a mental note to buy seam binding.

- – What about fabric pattern? – -

Well, because of the cut of the coat, I’m NOT going to suggest you use a big pattern, or a stripe, unless you don’t care if the pattern sort of “droops” on the side.  For example, the coat is cut very full and flared at the side.  The pockets, then, would not be on the straight of grain when you attach them, if you want to match the pattern.  When the coat is then belted in to the body, the pockets will look a little crooked to the eye, even if they’re on there just right.  Because of this, I suggest you focus on something without an obvious fabric print direction or nap.

The skirt, however, is an A-line skirt, and it’s up to you- feel free to go crazy with pattern matching on the side seams if you want.  In fact, I’m on the look out for a wide stripe for mine.

- – What about fabric weights? – -

I’m going to suggest you use a mid-weight fabric.  The silhouette of the period has a somewhat “flared” appearance.  Because of this, light weight fabrics will tend to collapse on your figure.  Heavier weights, or stiffer fabrics, will stand out pretty far from the body.  It’s entirely up to you- if you like the exaggerated silhouette you can consider something stiffer or with more body.  Personally, I’m going to try something mid-weight.  What I am going to suggest, if you are considering a different weight, is to use an inexpensive fabric in the same drape or weave as your finished garment.  That way you can see if what you’re thinking of using will work before you actually spend good money on your actual fabric choice.  If you’re considering a pattern, you can do the same thing.  I’ve seen stripes drawn on muslin in order to test pattern, so when you try it on you can see how it looks.  Great idea, right?

- – What about fabric types and content? – -

Well, that’s why I’ve scanned in these original catalog images from you!  These are from 1916, the same year as the pattern was released.  These images are from the W. & H. Walker company out of Pittsburgh, PA.

Don’t forget to READ the descriptions in the pictures!  Don’t just look at the pretty pictures.  The descriptions of the suit and fabrics will help you select proper colors and fabric types.

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On left is a corduroy suit with a linen collar, cuff, and pockets.  This suit came in white with Copenhagen blue trimming.

At right, a velvet finished corduroy suit (I think one with a very narrow wale would work for this).  All white with Copenhagen blue collar cuffs, and pockets OR white with rose colored collar, cuffs, and pockets.

At bottom right is cotton fabric for suiting, and if you read, there are many different types available (stripes, plaids, checks, etc)

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Most noticeably on this page is the “Shepherd check suiting”, which was in black and white.  It has “worsted appearance” but doesn’t say the actual fabric content.  This would be great for the skirt and for the jacket trim (collar, cuffs, etc).

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This one snuck  in because it was on the facing page, but instead of deleting it, I’m going to say you can keep it in mind for blouses ;)

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On this page we have “Long Beach Suiting” with a “worsted” appearance.  This could well have been inspired by the “Palm Beach fabric” that’s so famous for suits for ladies and men.  Palm Beach was a linen, wool, silk blend (I think).  It was available in tan, gray, cream, or stripe.

At bottom there are two more check suiting fabrics, both black and white check.

fabric4 Here at top are some appropriate fabrics, including another black and white check, cotton suiting, and “Motor Linene”, which may not be appropriate, but I think is AWESOME (“Sheds dust and dirt”  LOVE early automobile fashions).

- – What about yardage? – -

The original yardages were sketchy, at best. To save time, I give general yardages for you, but they are based on the nestled pattern.  Here’s more info from my website, showing the image from the back cover for yardages.

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  * * * * Don’t forget to order any interfacings or hair canvas, seam binding, buttons (optional) and all other accouterments you’ll need! * * * * 

And most importantly, don’t forget your mock up fabric!  But it in the same amounts listed above, and you may have a little left over.

- – I’m giving you a disclaimer here:  Neglect to make a mock up at your own peril.  - -

Seriously, though, sometimes these old patterns need adjustments.  Don’t just go for it and hope it works out.  Mock ups are important, especially when so much fabric needs to be bought for this project.  Not making a mock up will be a waste of money if your finished suit doesn’t fit how you want!

Do you have any favorite places to shop for fabric online?  Leave me a comment so everyone else can know your favorite sources!

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Let’s Talk Styles!

Thanks so much to everyone who’s taken the first survey so far.    If you didn’t don’t worry, you still can!  I’m leaving it up so I can get as many responses as possible :)  You can find it on a previous blog post.

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Time for survey #2!

I’m currently doing the researching and collecting info for getting my correct certification in my state so I can get all that settled, but I’m already gathering inspiration and ideas.

After my clothing collection is up and has reached it’s funding goal, the most likely release will be Autumn of this year.  After we meet the goal is when everything gets the green light and we get to go forward with making actual clothing!  How exciting!  Keep the Autumn season in mind when you take the survey.

The biggest factor, of course, to the success of this is to make something you aesthetically want and need!  Your input is very valuable!

Click here to take “Let’s Talk Styles” survey.

Have I mentioned yet how completely awesome you are?  Yes, you!  The one reading this post!  You are made of win.

Part 1: Suit-A-Long! Let’s Go!

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Welcome to the Suit-a-Long!

Well, whether or not you’re participating, you get to see my posts if you’re subscribed to my blog.  Buahaha.

What’s the Suit-A-Long?  

I JUST finished up and released the 1910′s Suit Pattern.  This pattern was based on an original that appeared in a 1916 issue of McCall’s Magazine.  You can see it below, at center.

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Why a Suit-A-Long?

The pattern I just released is based on an original vintage pattern from 1916.  If you’ve ever seen original patterns of this era, they can be pretty intimidating!  Most of the instructions, if not all, are text only and are pretty sparce. The pieces can be a bit of a puzzle to figure out.  BUT they make up into such nice, period correct garments, that I thought this would be the perfect way to “dive in” and help you understand how to break down and use an original vintage pattern.

It’s not all 100% to the period, though.  Sometimes patterns of this era were sketchy- some pieced didn’t fit together right, the dots were on the tissue and hard to figure out- I’ve eliminated some of this guesswork by making multiple mock ups of the pattern and correcting it beforehand, as best I could.

You also don’t have to rely on one single size, since original patterns of this era came in only one size per packet, in unprinted tissue paper with holes (called “dot perforations”) for markings.  Instead, I’ve graded and multi-sized this pattern, and all sizes are nestled together on a big printed pattern sheet.

The mix of the old and new makes this a great pattern to use to become acquainted with the way older patterns worked, which is why this Sew-A-Long was started!

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What pattern do I order?

Well, let’s break it down.  You’ve got choices.  I’ve done this both as a printed, mailed pattern (printed on 36″ wide bond paper), or as  a print-at-home pattern.

Do you want to make both the skirt and jacket?   Buy the pattern for the suit. Both pieces are included, and the price is cheaper than if you bought the skirt and jacket individually.

Do you only want to make the skirt or jacket?  Not a problem!  You can buy either one on their own, in print or in e-pattern form.

What’s the difference between a print and e-pattern?

The mailed, printed pattern is just that.  I get them printed, I package them up, and then I mail it to you.  You get a 36″ wide print on hearty bond paper in the mail.

  • The pros?  No cutting and taping required!  No printing on your end.  Once you get it, you can get started.
  • The cons?  The price up front is a little higher, and there’s a postage cost.  You have to wait to receive it in the mail.

The E-Pattern is a Digitally Downloaded Pattern.  You download the files to your computer then print them out yourself at home.

  • The pros?  Instant gratification.  As soon as your order is marked as “Completed”, you download the pattern, print it at home, and you can get started the same day.  The cost of buying the pattern from me is less than the printed pattern cost.  And no postage fees!  Plus, if you find your size goes up or down in the future, you can just print it out again and cut another size.
  • The cons?  You do have to print them all out yourself, and it is a pretty hefty pattern.  If you want to make the skirt and the jacket, there’s nearly 100 pages to print out at home.  After that, you need to cut and tape the pages together before you can get started.

Got more questions about e-patterns?  Make sure you read the product description page well.  If you are new to using them, The Dreamstress did a great tutorial on her blog using one of my e-patterns as an example of how to print and tape one together, so make sure you go check it out!

What Size Do I order?

Lucky you!  My newer patterns aren’t broken down into smaller size packs anymore, so all sizes are in the same multisite pattern.  This pattern includes all sizes originally made in this pattern.  Here’s a size chart:

Size     34   36   38   40   42   44   46
Bust 34 36 38 40 42 44 46
Waist 24 26 28 30 32 34 36
Hip 37 39 41 43 45 47 49

We’ll go more into choosing what size to cut in the next post.

Is your waist larger than the sizes given? No problem!  I’ll show how easy it is to re-size the skirt in a future post, too!

Ready to order?  You can find all the print and e-pattern version of this pattern on this page of my website.

Hope you’ll join us!

I Need Your Input! To Help Me Make What You Want, Take My Survey!

Wow, everyone!  I am so blessed and thankful for your response to my dream!

Knowing you are behind me makes all the difference.  If I didn’t have the support, it wouldn’t go forward.  Last night I was brought to tears at the responses.

In order to best plan my time and endeavors, I really need your help.

Please help me out by taking this survey.  I have created it so I can better understand what is needed and wanted.

Click here to take the survey

 

Since a few people were asking, I will answer a couple of questions.

I have no plans on discontinuing my patterns at present- all the current offerings are staying up on my Wearing History Patterns website.  Since I can’t develop both sewing patterns and a clothing line at the same time, my energy will be aimed at getting the clothing line designs started and the Kickstarter campaign up at present.

The Wearing History 1910s Suit Sew-a-Long is still happening!  I’ll be doing those posts at the same time as I prepare for my first clothing collection.

Unfortunately, I will not be able to do plus size clothing at present.  I am not trained in drafting and making plus size clothing, and adapting the patterns and designs to plus sizes in the future will be dependent on if the initial clothing line takes off, since I would need to hire people to help with that.  I’m not saying it will never happen, it just is outside of my personal skill set, so I won’t be able to offer that at present. I’m very sorry, I wish I could, but I don’t have the training to sure I would make a high quality garment for plus sizes.

Fulfilling Dreams- A New Direction for Wearing History

This is an exciting and still a hard post to write.  I have these dreams inside of me. Dreams I feel were instilled by God- things I know were given to me as a passion.  Things that are not yet created.

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Every step along the way has been planned.   There are amazing things that have come through the journey.  I’ve met amazing people, I’ve learned new skill sets.  I have found out so much information that could not have been instilled by a college degree, but had to be learned in real life and not in the school room or learned by word of mouth.  I’ve had failures, successes, disappointments.  I’ve had fun, I’ve had times I didn’t know if I could continue or thought I’d have to give up.  But I KNOW now that all were at their good and perfect time- every rock along the path was planned out for me.  Every thing I thought might have been a stumbling block, an unplanned trail, or things I’v just pain failed at have been used as learning tools to create a better me and define my vision and purpose.

There are some people who were given a passion since they were young.  I was very lucky to be one of those people.  I always knew I wanted to be a designer.  As far back as I can remember, I’ve wanted to make clothes inspired by the past.  I designed for my dolls.  I designed for my cousins.  I designed for myself.  I moved beyond scotch tape and staples to real needle and thread, and then to real sewing machine.

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My passions led me to study Fashion Design, where I obtained my degree in hopes of doing costume design or vintage inspired clothing.  And now, as you all know, I have a sewing pattern line inspired by vintage originals.

I’ve studied vintage fashion since I was 14 years old.  My mom would drop me off at a community college, where I’d research off of old microfilm all the original periodicals of the New York Times, and pour over reference books- making sketches and taking notes.  I started collecting vintage clothing around this time, too.  I’m thirty three at present- making it nearly twenty years since I found my passion.

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Along the way I’ve done custom design work.  I’ve worked doing independent film as a stylist or designer.  I’ve worked in costume shops for theaters like the La Jolla Playhouse and the San Diego Opera as a stitcher and First Hand.  I’ve applied my school training and my personal study to home sewing patterns, making it so new people can discover old styles for themselves.

But my real passion is, and always has been, to be a designer.

That is why, after five years of making Wearing History Patterns, that I’ve felt like my combined experience from all the avenues I’ve walked along to get to this point, are pointing me towards finally trying to fulfill my true dream- to launch my own line of ready to wear clothing inspired by original historical fashions, especially of the 1930s through 1950s.

I have been waiting- like a caterpillar morphing into a butterfly. It has been so hard to be patient.  But I truly feel like all things are pointing towards my ultimate goal- that God has really given me a passion and purpose and the talent and desire for a reason.  I feel like this is what my future is supposed to be.

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Have you ever poured over old catalogs and wished you could buy the clothing in them?  Have you scoured for the original vintage clothing in those styles, only to find them either damaged, delicate, or in the wrong size?  Wouldn’t it be wonderful if they could make a comeback?

I think by now you all know my aesthetic and fashion and what to expect from me and my work- I adore original period fashions.  But my heart is taking those fashions and sourcing the fabric trims, and fit to make them unique and new but still true to the era in which they originated.

My dream is to make vintage inspired clothing that can be worn every day.  Clothing you don’t have to save for a “special occasion.”  Clothing that makes you happy, and blends in to everyday life, but still reminds us that there’s no reason that “people had to dress better back then”.  We can embrace it now!

I am so passionate, it’s hard to put this into words- I wish I could just hand you what I feel and know in a little bottle, so you could understand more clearly.  But that is what I really hope to do in the future, in term of clothing delivered to you, designed by me.

I’m passionate about the garment industry’s revival here in the United States.  For that reason, I have sourced and spoken to and toured a local place here that is family owned and creates job in my local community.  I have toured the facility, talked at length with them about my vision and shown them examples of my work.  They are as excited as I am.  I am excited about supporting a true local industry that is living up to all requirements and regulations here in our country.  I want to do this right, and I want to make sure what I give to you is something I ethically believe in, because I believe in production in the United States.

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Here’s when it comes down to brass tacks- I am currently getting my garment credentials to pursue this in my state (which has regulations that many states in the US do not have).  I want to make sure this is done RIGHT.  In the upcoming month or two, expect to see a lot of questions from me, as well as updates of this process.  I have passion and vision, but it’s ultimately up to you, my blog readers, friends, and customers, to make this work and survive.  I’m putting my dream out there, I’m putting my talents to where I feel they were meant to be, but ultimately if it’s not what YOU want or need, it’s not going to happen.

When I’ve got my collection finalized, I’ll be linking to my campaign on Kickstarter.  All the details are yet to be configured on details of that- but our community will decide if this is a viable dream- if you believe in it, it will happen.

I am so blessed by all of you.  I hope you know how much I appreciate all the love and support I’ve gotten from you over the years.  I am so excited for this new chapter, and I hope you are, too!

Lots of love,

Lauren

Finished Project: 1002 Nights Poiret Dress

I have just finished up my Poiret inspired dress!

Paul Poiret is one of my fashion design icons.  Making a dress that paid homage to him was really fun!

I felt so “high fashion” in it, because of it’s absurdity, so had fun with editing my photos to capture the way it felt.

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If you missed the prior post with more details about the making of this dress, you can find it here.

This “excuse” for making this dress (not that I needed one) was the Historical Sew Fortnightly’s “Fairytale” challenge.  Here’s the info for the challenge:

The Challenge: #6- “Fairytale”  Inspired by Paul Poiret’s “One Thousand and Second Night” party.

Fabric:  The tunic is all poly with little rubber dots on it.  Pretty horrid, but has a great look when made up for the “Poiret” look.  The dress is a black satin rayon, which they actually did have in this time period.

Pattern: Underdress: My Cordelia skirt pattern and the 1910s Blouse pattern with an altered neckline and no sleeves.  Overdress:  Very loosely based on a bodice pattern from the period, but mostly entirely self composed as I went along.

Year: 1913-ish

Notions: Indian import trim, hooks and eyes, snaps, hoop wire, bias facing.

How historically accurate is it?  If it wasn’t for the fibre content, it would be pretty close.  I’m knocking myself for that, though, and giving myself a 40% accuracy marking.

Hours to complete:  I have no idea.  Maybe 12-ish?  It went pretty fast, but I puttered in 15 minute increments on it over the span of three weeks (didn’t make the “fortnight” due date).

First worn: Today for pictures!

Total cost: Hmm…. considering the only thing I really bought for this was the dupatta, I think it was around $35.  Everything else was from the stash.

More outfit details:  My shoes were thrifted, my hat is authentic Edwardian, and the brooches, etc are vintage, with the exception of the necklace and earrings, and the choker I used as an accent on the belt.  All of those are new from Ebay, bought over the last seven years or so.

 

NEW PATTERN! 1910′s Suit Pattern & A Sew-A-Long!

Hi everyone!

Remember this pattern?  I’m gearing up to release it and we’re going to start sewing soon!

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This is from an original vintage pattern from 1916 and is great for your WWI era impressions during the centennial!  Plus, it fits right in with the time period of many popular shows right now.  Fun stuff!

We’re having a sew-a-long for this pattern.  This will have the original period sewing instructions which are mostly text only.  I have added some things like cutting charts and modern fabric estimations for yardage.  In the sew-a-long you’ll learn to decipher and make this pattern using the original period instructions.  If you’ve never sewn with an original period pattern before, this is a great opportunity to dip your toes in the water.  The history of the sewing pattern is very fascinating!

As a sneak peek of what this looks like in mock up form, here’s photos from my progress during the making of the pattern:

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If you want to be part of our group, we have one on Facebook.  We can all post photos to share progress, fitting help, questions, and suggestions during the process.  It’s a mind hive of people who all love vintage and historical sewing as much as each other.

You can join in here!

If you don’t have a Facebook account, that’s ok, too!  I’ll be posting progress photos of the process here on my blog as we make the garment up together.

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You can now PRE-ORDER the mailed, printed pattern for the suit OR the jacket or skirt alone on this page of my website

E-patterns are coming soon!

If you’re joining in the Sew-A-Long, please use this special 20% off coupon for a limited time.  When you apply this coupon I know you’ll be doing the sew-a-long so I know how many participants to expect.  Apply the coupon code SUITALONG at checkout for the discount to apply.  The discount will be good for e-patterns as well as mailed, printed patterns.

Looking forward to sewing with you!

New E-Pattern! 1940′s Apron

Hello!

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My little 1940′s apron pattern has had a little uptick in popularity lately, so I decided to add this one as an e-pattern offering!  You can now buy it either as a mailed, printed pattern or as a print-at-home pattern.

This makes a fun weekend project.  Don’t forget, I have lots of great tutorials for this one, too!

You can buy the e-pattern here.

(psst… if anyone sees a mention of my little pattern, would you please let me know?  I’m interested in why it’s become so popular right now :) )

Studio Vignettes- Snapshots of What Inspires Me

I’ve just emerged from underneath a massive pile of paperwork.  I feel like I can breathe again!  Man, is this time of year hard on the self-employed.  Catch up on bookkeeping, tax prep, and applying for new insurance has left me drained.

But then, I look around, and I get SO inspired by what the future holds.

Today I thought I’d share a few little vignettes of the pretty things I have around my studio/office that make me inspired.

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There’s old fabrics I’ve saved to reproduce someday.  There’s fashion images from different centuries and decades.  There’s pretty buttons, fabric, trims, and patterns. And hats!  We cannot forget the hats.
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What do you surround yourself with that makes you inspired?

In Progress: A Poiret Inspired “One Thousand and Second Night” Dress

The next Historical Sew Fortnightly challenge is “Fairytale.”  I was originally thinking that I would finish my Edwardian tea gown and do “Sleeping Beauty”, but then I got totally uninspired and realized I made some mistakes in construction when I started it last year.  That, and I had about a million pieces of insertion lace to cut the back out of and finish, and I don’t like the fabric.

So my second thought was “The Midas Touch”, and making a gold 1920′s evening dress and cape.  But the event I was going to make it for was last night, and we didn’t go, and I obviously didn’t make the dress in time.

So then, I looked on this lovely Indian imported dupatta shawl (bought at Queens Club on Etsy).  I had bought it to make a 19-teens evening dress for, but when it arrived I wasn’t enthralled with the poly content and little painted gold dots on it.  But the trim on the edges is GORGEOUS, and, the next idea that popped into my head was more costumey, which would allow a little more wiggle room for authenticity than my original plan I had purchased it for, so it was sort of serendipity.

One of my fashion design icons of all time is Paul Poiret, and he had lavish parties themed “One Thousand and Second Night”.  PERFECT theme for the HSF challenge!

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Denise Poiret, 1911, at one of the “One Thousand and Second Night” parties (found via Pinterest).

Did I mention I love roses, so I bought it for the rose pattern and then realized not only did Poiret LOVE textiles of this sort, but his signature rose was similar in design to the one on my dupatta.  Serendipity!  Meant to be!  And it’s coming together SO quickly.  Love when that happens.

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Poiret Dress from FIT (found via Pinterest)

One of my main inspirations are the “lampshade” dresses that Paul Poiret was incredibly well known for.  This one is a classic.  Katherine of The Fashionable Past actually made a great 19-teens evening gown inspired by the existing black and white version of this dress.

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I started with an original vintage pattern, circa 1912, but changed it quite a bit in the muslin mock up stage to accommodate a bodice that would cross in front and in back and have a slightly different sleeve than the original, which was tighter fitting and had gussets.

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I pinned the bodice and skirt to the dress form to get an idea of the length of the lampshade skirt.  I did end up shortening it, and decided I wanted it to have a slightly longer length in back than in front.

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The dress it’s over is the dress I made for the Cordelia skirt pattern sample of the evening train.  I have never worn it, so chopped off the sleeves, removed the trim, and am making it work as an underdress for this outfit.  I also will have to let out some of the seams, since I’m not the same size I was a few years ago.  But still, better than starting from scratch!

I have decided to make the underdress and overdress separate, so that I have the option to make harem trousers for this at a later time.

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After I cut the right length, I assembled the underarm seams, the back seam, and decided on a center back closure.  The original was most likely a front closure, as is normal with period gowns, but I decided the back closure would be easier to construct (though it means I’ll need help getting into it).  After a little thinking, and remembering how period dresses are made that I have, I decided on the inner waistband, with the skirt and bodice gathered to it.  All seams are now encased between the inner waistband and the rayon seam tape.  It will lap over at center back and fasten with hooks and bars and snaps.

IMG_4059 And on the form, ready for the next step!  I will have a waist sash cover the waist where the tape is visible, and I have to sew the inside casing for the hoop wire next.  It’s coming together quite quickly, considering I only started it yesterday afternoon!

I have a board on Pinterest I started as inspiration for this project, with Poiret images, examples from the Ballet Russes, and other period inspirations.

Hope you had a fantastic weekend!