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Finished Project: Irene Castle & Lucile Inspired Gala Dress

Hello!  Hope everyone had a wonderful weekend.  Today, I’m finally sharing my 2014 Costume College Gala Dress!

Several of us signed on to do a group project of Robe De Styles for this year’s Costume College.  While most people think of 1920’s gowns with the panniers for Robe De Style (see my Pinterest board here), I wanted to do a bit of a predecessor of the style by doing 19-teens style of a similar silhouette.

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Lucile’s “Happiness” dress, in the collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art

One of my favorite extant gowns of the 19-teens is the “Happiness” dress by Lucile from her 1916 Autumn collection.  Lucile was also known as Lady Duff Gordon, who was a survivor of the Titanic disaster.  If you’d like to see more of her work, check out my pinterest board.  Since I’ve been utilizing Pinterest a lot for my projects, you can also see the other looks that I was brainstorming and inspired by for my gala dress, here.

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Lucile, 1919.  In the collection of the Met museum.

I loved the fullness of skirt of the “Happiness” dress, but I also loved the draped skirt on some of Lucile’s other work.

IreneCastle1I’ve also long been a fan of Irene Castle’s style.  Vernon & Irene Castle were a world famous husband and wife dancing team of the 19-teens.  Above she wears a Lucile creation.  You can see my Pinterest board of Irene Castle’s style here.

I was procrastinating for a long time on my Gala dress because I simply didn’t know what I wanted to do.  Inspiration overload!  I was also elbow deep in designing and prepping my new clothing line, and time was tight.  Finally, I dug in and went for it.

I started with a base of this pattern from the Vintage Pattern Lending Library for the bodice.  All else was pretty much draped or cobbled together from my knowledge of period construction by studying extant garments.  I was bad and didn’t even try it on, which meant that the torso was much too short for me (and I’m short waisted.  Disclaimer, there, if you want to buy that pattern).

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I had seen tucks in several of the research photos I found, so I used a twin needle and started creating tucks to go around the waist.

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A little too tuck-crazy, I played with the fabric on the form until I found I really liked the loop of this “seashell” kind of design, created by draping and twisting the fabric.

For fabric, I had a gold tissue lame silk chiffon in my stash which I had planned on using for an Edwardian gown.  I also had a sea green crinkle silk chiffon, and I bought the sea green silk taffeta in Los Angeles a few weeks before Costume College. With these, some belting, some beading, and some silk roses (made during class on Saturday!), I made this dress.

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I am not a dancer, and not graceful, so luckily I had some help with posing from some friends and bystanders so I could attempt at the poses I loved in Irene Castle’s photos.

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Here’s a black and white one, just for kicks, because it makes me feel like a time traveller :)

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And me looking like an advert for drinking tea at dinner that night :)

Yay!  I love this dress!  I am a little unhappy I was in such a rush that I didn’t get to do the fittings I really needed, so the armholes are a little wonky and the torso is a little too short, but otherwise, I really love the dress and I’ll be looking for an excuse to wear it again.

And, because I was asked at Costume College- I’m sorry, there won’t be a pattern for this.  It was just a personal project, and it’s a bit too complicated to do into pattern form.

If you’re wondering, I get into the dress by opening at the side of the skirt.  The bodice is overlapped it at center front, and it snaps (or, it should snap, but it was really pinned) into place. It’s that crazy Edwardian/1910s puzzle piece of a way to get into garments.  If you’ve seen real ones, you’ll totally get what I’m saying.  They were really creative at fastenings back then.  Today, we have invisible zippers to do this- but they snapped and hooked at all sorts of strange places to make it look like your dress just magically was on your body without any obvious fasteners.  That’s one thing I wish that movies that are set in the 1910’s would do instead of putting a big ol’ zipper up the back.  But I digress… I hope you like the dress :)

 

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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.

 

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!

Finished Project: 1919 Knitted Slipover “Bodice”

I have been working on this on and off for about a month or so, and just finished it up!  I’ve come down with a rotten cold, so the opportunity of finding couch worthy projects helped me finish this up.

I may be stretching a bit, but since I just finished this, and the next Historical Sew Fortnightly challenge is “Bodice”, I’m going to use this as a submission.  A little internet searching, and I found this “knitted bodice without sleeves” from 1870 on the Vintage Stitch-O-Rama Free Pattern Emporium.  The one I made is nearly 50 years later, but a similar idea.  Maybe stretching the “bodice” idea a bit (har had, it’s knitted, so it already stretches), but I’m going with it.

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Here is the pattern I made mine from.  It’s available in my Etsy shop.  I fell in love with it in the original periodical I have in my archives.

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I admit, I didn’t do this pattern exactly as it is.  Being a somewhat notice knitter, I was clueless as to how to pick up stitches and knit the border around the collar and down the front.  And it wanted me to make buttonholes.  So I cheated, and crocheted the edge instead.  There’s enough stretch in the sweater for me to not have to have functional buttonholes.

I also changed the way the cord was made.  I didn’t like how the one looked that the instructions called for, so I looked up “crocheted cord” on Youtube and ended up doing one that’s often used in crocheted lace, or macrame.  I like it!  It took a while to get used to doing, but after a while I got in the groove and the two yards I needed to make went pretty quickly.

I also realized, as I was working this up, that I colorized the photo wrong, and there were meant to be three colors.  Oops?  I actually prefer the two.  In the original instructions, the collar and front three cord and button fasteners are supposed to be a different color than the slipover and edging and cord.

The pattern is old, and so isn’t terribly instructive like modern patterns.  I had to fudge a little here and there, since I had never made crocheted buttons or crocheted top tassels before, but I just played with single crochet and it worked out just fine.  For the base of the buttons I just used some plastic buttons in my stash that I didn’t particularly like, but that were flat.  I know I had plastic rings around here somewhere, but these worked in a pinch.

I’m pretty proud of myself for finishing this!  I’m actually REALLY pleased with how it came out.  I’ve had so many knitting disasters in my eight-ish years I’ve knitted on and off, that it’s nice to have something look pretty close to the original image.

I’ve shown this over a 1910s blouse I made a few years ago and an original vintage skirt from the 1910s to very early 1920s.

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The Challenge: #5 Bodice

Fabric: (Yarn) Shine Worsted Yarn by KnitPicks.  I loooooove this yarn!  So soft!

Pattern: 1919 Knitted Slipover (PDF in my Etsy Store)

Year: 1919

Notions: Buttons to cover.  I used sewing thread to sew on the buttons and little cord things across the front.  Crochet hook and knitting needles.

How historically accurate is it?  Nearly 100%.  The buttons I used to cover are modern plastic, and they may not have had cotton/rayon yarn then, but again, they may have, as rayon was often called “artificial silk” in this time period.

Hours to complete:  A million.  I’m not the fastest knitter.

First worn:  Not yet, but I’m totally planning on wearing this with modern clothing as well as historical, so I’m sure it will get some use.

Total cost:  Maybe $30?  I think I used about 7 balls of yarn at $2.99 each plus shipping.

Edwardian Bust Improver “Perfect Form”

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In line with my last post, I wanted to share a funny little Edwardian innovation that appeared in many periodicals of the time.  This one happens to come from The Delineator, April, 1905.  The “Sahlin Perfect Form”.  I’ve seen these ads many times, but had never seen a real one, until I happened to see one on Ebay, just sold recently.

These images are from the eBay auction, by seller $4europe.  They took quite detailed shots, by which we can see the basics of constructions.  These images are the property of the seller, and are just posted here for educational use.

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Where the boning crosses, it creates an arc.  Similar boning was done to create the rounded styles of stays in the 18th century, but here it was often to stand away from the body, rather than hug to it.
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If you compare this to the original ad, the buckles were to make it adjustable to the figure, to wrap across the back, then fasten the ties through the buckles at the sides.

Fascinating piece of fashion history!   Wonder our Edwardian counterparts would think of the “chicken cutlets” of today?

Finished Projects: Edwardian S-Curve Corset + “Improvers”

If you’re following me on Instragram, you may have seen my progress posts on my Edwardian corset and bust improvers.  The corset project was a UFO from last year’s Historical Sew Fortnightly from the same challenge.  This year I was determined to finish it.  It’s just in at the deadline, barely, but I finished it!

I have a few entries for this challenge, since I decided to make Edwardian bust improvers to go with the corset.  Each project is listed separately, but I’ll include them both in this post.

It was much too small, so I had to add 2″ panels to each side.  Luckily, with the other seaming, it’s not terribly obvious.  I had accidentally cut this WAY too small, and had forgotten I had added extra seam allowance to my mock up but didn’t transfer it to my pattern.  Thank goodness I had *just* enough coutil and fashion fabric to cut panels!

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The Challenge: #4- Under it All

Fabric:  Cotton coutil, silk broade

Pattern: Truly Victorian TVE01- 1903 S-Curve Corset

Year: 1903

Notions:  Metal boning, busk, eyelets, ribbon, vintage laces, corset lace, bone casing, twill tape for loops for detachable garters (garters were made for a previous corset, but work for this one as well).

How historically accurate is it?  Pretty close, but I serged the inside seams instead of leaving them raw or flat felling them.  The garters are not really period correct, as they would have been constructed differently.

Hours to complete: Way too many

First worn: Not yet.

Total cost:  Pretty expensive.  I didn’t keep track, but I’d guess in the $50-$60 range.  Most of the materials were bought either last year or several years before, so I didn’t need to buy any new products to complete this during this year.

paddingAlso made were the padding.  I made the “hip pad” from the Truly Victorian pattern that was included with the corset.  For the bust pads, however, I decided I wanted ones similar to those in the LACMA museum, that I had seen in the “Fashioning Fashion” exhibit.

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Woman’s Bust Improver (Falsies), England, circa 1900, image from LACMA
I drafted up a quick pattern based on these.  First I made ones that were 16″ across, but they were kind of big and more “Barbie”ish.  Today I whipped up another pair that are 14″ across, and they suit better.
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To compare, here’s the larger ones, and the smaller ones.  They’re both somewhat ridiculous, but so period correct!
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I actually ended up sticking this up on my site as an e-pattern.  Since I went to the trouble, I thought others might want to make some, too.
e102COVERwebFair warning/disclaimer.   These were based on those in the collection of LACMA, but the pattern I made is in no way affiliated with LACMA, or endorsed by them.  It was just a fun, quick project, using an existing period example as inspiration.
In any case…
For kicks, I took pictures of my corset with a dress I had made a few years ago with padding and without padding, to get an idea of how it changes the silhouette.
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How interesting!  It reminds me so much of this ad:
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The Challenge: #4- Under it All

Fabric:  Cotton muslin, cotton shirting

Pattern: Truly Victorian TVE01- 1903 S-Curve Corset, + Wearing History E102- Edwardian Bust Improver

Year: 1900-1908

Notions:  For hip pad: Cotton wadding, twill tape.  For bust improvers: cotton wadding, double fold bias tape, flat lace that was gathered, lace beading, silk ribbon.

How historically accurate is it?  Pretty close.  I think the TV pattern is dead on for the period.  Bust improvers of the time varied greatly, so I wouldn’t be surprised if some exactly like this existed.  The museum examples were constructed open at the back, so they could be stuffed and unstuffed.  For ease, and because I will very seldom actually wear these, I just stuffed them and seamed it in, so they have  closed back.

Hours to complete: These were quick. Probably under an hour for each item.

First worn: Not yet.

Total cost:  Everything was from the stash.  Actual cost of each was probably under $5.  The cotton batting was free, and everything else was constructed of scraps of inexpensive cotton.  The lace was probably the most expensive part, since it was all vintage.  The silk ribbon was maybe a few dollars a yard and under a yard was used on each bust improver.

Inspiration: 1905 Corsets

Today I have, what I think, are the most gorgeous pages of corsets I have ever seen in an Edwardian magazine.  These are both from a copy of The Delineator I have in my archives from September, 1905.

Not only are corsets beautiful, but the page layouts are gorgeous and they include great descriptions of the corsets, and what figure types they are suited for.

“No, 1 is a plain little corset designed especially to soften the angles of an extremely slight figure ;  No. 2, made of fancy sateen with ribbon decoration, shows the natural hip and high bust effect ;  No. 3,  illustrated in white coutil, is for larger hips and high bust ;  No. 4 of white satin, is designed to reduce the too pronounced curves below the waist.”

“No. 1 is a ribbon or tape girdle, especially favored for golf, tennis, and other outdoor sports ;  No. 2 is a novelty corset of brocaded satin, lacing at each side of the front ;  No. 3 combines a bust supporter of white satin ribbon and a hip reducing corset of sateen ;  No. 4 is a slightly boned silk jersey model for a medium figure, giving the high bust effect.”

I love that it includes an image of a ribbon corset! I’d love to make one of those some day.

I find it very interesting that one of the corsets includes a bust supporter.  This is the era when the top edge of the corsets started to move closer to the waist, so it is very nice to know there were options out there for ladies who required or desired bust support in a corset.  Many ladies would wear separate brassieres, which offered very little support compared to what we are accustomed to today.

I have picked up the Truly Victorian S-Curve corset again, which I set aside and has a remained a UFO (unfinished object) since last year.  These are very inspiring for me to finish it by the Historical Sew Fortnightly deadline!

I actually love these images so much that I have added one of them to my Cafepress store.  So you can get T shirts, journals, etc, with the image if you love it as much as I do!

1905_delineator_corsets_journalI do not mind if you share these original images, but please do remember to link back and give credit, as it always takes me a bit of time to clean up the originals and share.  Thanks :)