RSS Feed

Tag Archives: historical

1660s Cavalier Dress at Costume College (and Bonus: Hacking the American Duchess 18th Century Undergarments Pattern to Make a 17th Century Chemise)

I now have photos for my 1660s Cavalier dress from official Costume College photographer Andrew Schmidt, as well as a great group photo of the rest of my Cavalier ladies!IMG_4216-(ZF-7662-83598-1-001)

You can see my previous posts about this project under the tag “Cavalier” but if you keep reading I will discuss the things that went wrong with this project, and what I would do differently in the future, so you can learn from my mistakes!IMG_4217-(ZF-7662-83598-1-002)

I am very happy with how our group turned out, with the variety of colors, trimming, and hairstyles. Left to right, back to front: me, Teresa, Cate, Kim, Jessie, and Elizabeth.IMG_4211-(ZF-7662-83598-1-003)

I used the Nehelenia 1660 Baroque dress pattern. This era is completely new to me, and I have no experience with this shape of the bodice, so I followed all the instructions. This included making bound bodice tabs (similar to 18th century stays, seen below) to help distribute the weight of the skirt, and sewing all the bodice pieces of the fashion fabric together before attaching it to the boned interlining.IMG_2904

These steps may be period correct, but created some extra work and issues, so I have some comments about what I would do differently if I made another dress of this style:

  1. No tabs! Anyone who has made stays knows how time-consuming it is to bind them! Since my skirt was a lightweight taffeta, I could have skipped the tabs and pleated the skirt directly to the bodice and saved a lot of time. (I would not recommend this for a heavy skirt like velvet or brocade). Dressing would have been much easier too, since I would have had a one-piece dress to slip over my undergarments. Instead, I had to make sure the front tab was over my skirt, while my back and side tabs were underneath my skirt, while my bum roll was over my bodice back tabs but under my skirt. It took some help getting dressed!
  2. Do not finish the fashion layer before sewing it to the interlining. I had some problems with wrinkling in the bodice. I think it would have helped if I sewed the fashion fabric to the interlining, and then sewed each pattern piece together (the way 18th century stays are made). This would have reduced the wrinkling and wiggling. I talked to someone else at the  Gala who was also wearing a 1660s gown, and hers was so smooth! She said she sewed the bodice the way she would a pair of stays.
  3. Maybe skip the cartridge-pleating. I love tiny cartridge pleats; they look delightful and neat. I am glad I did them for this dress, but for speed in the future I would probably do larger pleats to save time. I ended up spending so much time on them that I was not able to do my eyelet closures before a medical procedure made it impossible for me to sew, and recovery took longer than expected so I had to be sewn into my dress at CoCo! (I can’t remember the last time I showed up at an event without closures, but it’s a humbling reminder that life sometimes intervenes.)

Some of my problems may have been attributable to my use of silk taffeta instead of a thicker silk satin, but I wanted to use what I had in my stash, and the skirt was so light and lovely to wear.

I made the jewelry out of giant acrylic pearls, strung with fishing line. Glass pearls would have been lovely, but very heavy, and since I was going to pin the drape directly to a silk taffeta dress with a silk gauze neckline, I wanted it lighter.

Bonus: Hacking the American Duchess 18th Century Undergarments Pattern to Make a 17th Century Chemise)

I promised a pattern hack in the title, and here it is! This 17th century dress required an off-the-shoulder chemise, which I did not have. I also did not want to draft one from scratch, so I hacked the American Duchess 18th Century Undergarments pattern (Simplicity 8162). This is what the original pattern looks like:8162

Ignoring the ruffles, you have a body panel with a shoulder strap, a sleeve gusset for the underarm, and a square sleeve that is folded to form a tube.IMG_2634.JPG

However, what if you fold down the shoulder strap, shift the sleeve and gusset down, and double the size of the sleeve piece to make it fuller? (Previously you cut a square that became a tube, now you cut a large rectangle that becomes a square).IMG_2639.JPG

This is the shape you get:IMG_2644.JPG

Add a drawstring neckline, and you get an off-the-shoulder chemise!IMG_2648.JPG

Please note, my sleeves are a bit shorter than what you see historically. A proper 17th century chemise would have had much longer and exaggerated sleeves. I made these shorter for several reasons:

  1. I plan to reuse this with other gowns where a billowy chemise sleeve would be inconvenient.
  2. The portrait I am using as inspiration has an exposed chemise sleeve made of finer materials than the linen I used, plus little ribbon ties; thus I made false sleeves that can be attached to my black bodice that will allow for nicer fabric and no need to fuss with tying bows each time I wear it.

So, if you do not have the reasons enumerated above, you should quadruple (not double) the original sleeve pattern into a giant square, not a rectangle.IMG_3853

(Yes, those are green and purple crayons because my child left them next to my computer and I was too lazy to go looking for nicer writing implements).

Final reckoning:  Let’s tally up!

  • 10 yards of 35″ black silk taffeta: $49.90 + $8.75 shipping = $58.65 (Yay for fabulous sales from FabricMart!)
  • Nehelenia pattern: $23.96 including shipping (I ordered with a few other ladies and split the postage from Europe)
  • Lining and boning: $0 (left over from my 18th century stays project)
  • 2 yards linen (for chemise) and 1 yard silk gauze (for bodice neckline): $23.94 including tax and shipping from Dharma Trading (I ordered double that but am setting the rest aside for a different project, so I’m halving the cost)
  • 1 yard silk cotton blend for lower sleeves: $17.99 from Amazon
  • 120 giant pearls: $11.28 from Aliexpress
  • 2 brooches: $5.40 from Aliexpress
  • 2 “small spiral corkscrew” cheerleading/Irish dancing hair clips: $43.11 including shipping from eBay seller american_costumes
  • Ribbon, thread, hooks and eyes, polyfill for the bumroll, etc. from stash ~$5?

Total: $189.33

So the silk was cheap, but all the extras added up! Normally I do not count accessories and hairpieces, but in this case they are very specific to this era and the portrait inspiration, and they’re not very versatile for other eras.

Finally of course, as always, my shoes are American Duchess. They are the Pompadour French Court Shoes in black (affiliate link).

Screen Shot 2017-09-03 at 9.55.04 PM

This was a long post, so thanks for reading!

Advertisements

Regency / Napoleonic Court Gown and Train at Costume College 2017

I received my photos from the official Costume College photographer Andrew Schmidt  so I can show you my complete Regency/Napoleonic court gown and train ensemble!*

* A note about terminology: Technically, English Regency court gowns were a really odd silhouette where you had the high waist but very wide shape, and French gowns of the Napoleonic period had the more columnar shape, so my whole outfit is French style. However, for simplicity in some of my past posts I have been using the term “Regency” because I can wear my gown without the formal court train.IMG_3396-(ZF-3567-92908-1-002)IMG_3397-(ZF-3567-92908-1-003)

I love this view of the back. Thanks Mr. Schmidt for making sure the circle was laid out nicely!IMG_3399-(ZF-3567-92908-1-001)

I have made a number of posts about the construction process of the dress and train and you can find them under the Napoleonic tag on my blog, but I will summarize a few main points here.

For the dress I used the Butterick B6074 pattern, with some modifications (described in previous posts). The dress is made out of a mint green chiffon with white cotton voile lining, and the fancy layer on top is a heavily embellished net with embroidery and several types of sequins, beads, and faux pearls. I had a few questions about whether I used a sari. It is not a sari, but a bridal lace from Fabric Wholesale Direct. Here is a close-up of the fabric before I cut it out:img_0802

For the court train I used the Butterick B4890 Josephine pattern, but I modified it to have straps instead of a bodice back. The train is made with silk velvet, lined with a linen/cotton blend, and edged in a gold-tone netting lace. The front underbust strap is closed with a vintage brooch that I found on eBay.IMG_2362

My pearl necklace and earrings were made by Gloria of In The Long Run Designs, whose Etsy shop is full of beautiful historical jewelry!

il_570xN.1127614541_if7j

Photo by In The Long Run Designs

My regency diadem was made by me using brass lamp banding and faux pearls. (I posted about a party where I made some other diadems here).IMG_2927

This whole outfit was really heavy and became quite uncomfortable to wear by the end of the evening! I’m glad it was worn for only a few hours at the Friday Night Social. The dress is heavily beaded and sequined, and the train is quite heavy too, and unlike a Victorian outfit where I can have a corset and hoops to help support the weight, everything was supported by my shoulders.

Here’s a quick twirling video here where you can see the dress sparkle!

IMG_3150

So, what’s the final tally of what everything cost? This was my “splurge” project for the year so it cost more than my usual outfits, but I think this one was worth it!

Dress:

  • 3 yards beaded lace (from Fabric Wholesale Direct): $149.85
  • 3 yards mint chiffon (from FWD): $7.47
  • 3 yards white cotton voile (from FWD): $11.97
  • Thread and fishing line (from stash)

Total = $0 (All the fabric for this dress was a gift from Fabric Wholesale Direct in exchange for a tutorial you can see on their website. Thanks FWD!)

Court train:
  • 6 yards silk velvet (from Amazon, affiliate link): $113.84 (I used 5 yards)
  • 5 yards linen/cotton lining (from Renaissance Fabrics): $32.50 + tax and shipping = $43.59
  • 10 yards lace (from Aliexpress): $34.94 (I only use half, and sold the remainder)
  • Pattern (from eBay): $7.59
  • Brooch (from eBay): $3.84 (yay no one else bid on it)
  • Button cover kit (leftover from another project): $0
  • Button loops (braided from random string I found in my house): $0

Train total = $203.80

Ouch, that’s a bit of a splurge, but it’s not terrible considering I have a lot of huge scraps of silk velvet left over, and can probably make a 1920s dress with some careful cutting, so I can get two dresses out of that price!

Tiara: The cost of this is a little tricky to calculate, because a lot of the supplies I bought in bulk, used to make other tiaras, and shared with friends. I think if you shop right and share with friends you can make one for $30 depending on how fancy you get with beads, pearls, or gemstones. A big part of the cost is buying the brass online and paying for shipping.

  • Brass banding: Etsy or lamp supply stores
  • Faux pearls and head pins: eBay or Michael’s
  • Metal hair combs: Amazon or beauty supply shops

My shoes were Pemberly Regency slippers from American Duchess (affiliate link) that I previously owned. I am also wearing short stays and a corded petticoat (not period correct, but needed to support the weight of the dress).

So in total, this ensemble will cost you about $400 of materials (not including accessories), but represented a little more than $200 out of pocket, with enough leftovers to make a second dress, so not too bad! I try to keep most gowns $100 or less, so this was my “big project” for the year.

I am very happy with how this court outfit turned out, especially how the mint and rose color combination worked together, and how the accessories completed the look. It’s also always nice too when a dress looks good from the back as well!IMG_3399-(ZF-3567-92908-1-001)

1660s Cavalier Dress

The Costume College theme this year is “60s” and the Gala theme is “Dinner at Tiffany’s” so I am making a black 1660s dress with large pearls, inspired by this portrait of Grand Duke Ferdinand II of Tuscany and his wife Vittoria Della Rovere by Justus Sustermans at the National Gallery in London.1660s-probably-grand-duke-2

This is a stash-busting project!

A while back I got 10 yards of 36″ black silk taffeta for $5/yard. With this project my goal was to stay as close to $50 as possible, which meant the other materials had to not only be stash, but what I call “legit stash” (leftovers from other projects). As much as we like to pretend it doesn’t count if you buy it and hide it in the closet for a few years, it still cost money up front. Aside from the black silk I wanted to use things that were already accounted for in the costs of other projects. Luckily I had scraps for lining, reed from my stays, and other miscellaneous materials:

This means not all of the materials are ideal. However, my rallying cry is STASH-BUSTING! Stash-busting

I used silk taffeta for the interlining that encases the boning because I didn’t want my bodice to be too thick, since I will have to add more layers afterward (a fashion fabric that has to be flat-lined to prevent the boning from showing).

Please keep in mind that silk can be rather insulating and warm! I used silk interlining anyway because:

  • STASH-BUSTING!
  • I’m going to be wearing this in the evening and indoors, in an air-conditioned hotel.
  • I feel cold all the time. I promise I’m not a vampire.

I am using the Nehelenia 1660 Baroque dress pattern.IMG_2598.JPG

Please note, this pattern is not for beginners. No boning channels are marked, and you have to figure them out by yourself. I recommend having made stays before you tackle this project, because the bodice is essentially stays with fashion fabric on top.

The pattern calls for about 2.5 meters of fabric for the skirt, which is 98 inches. That is not particularly full. I looked at some other bloggers’ recommendations and Kendra of Demode and the Dreamstress both recommend about 150 inches for a modern frame, even though a smaller circumference was historically accurate. I ended up using 4 panels of 36″ fabric.

Here are some quick progress shots of the inside and outside of the bodice. (The sleeves are still a mess and I have to add eyelet closures down the back and some silk gauze to the neckline).IMG_2601IMG_2603

I have cartridge-pleated about 3/4 of the skirt. My trick to save time marking and measuring is to sewing gingham to the inside and keep it there as a way to make the pleats fuller.IMG_2605IMG_2606

For a “simple” black dress this is proving to be a lot of work (much of it hidden). There is. boning, binding of tabs, cartridge-pleating of the skirt and sleeves, etc. I am having surgery later today so I will have to take a bit of break from sewing and the computer. I hope I can still finish before Costume College!

Beaded Regency Court Dress (Part 3)

I’m still working on the rest of the court ensemble but at least my dress is complete! B.JPG

I didn’t have all my accessories yet at the time so I wore a pearl tiara I had instead of a Regency diadem and did a quick updo. (My next post will be about Regency diadems; I got together with a group of friends for a tiara-making day).D.JPG

You can read Parts 1 and 2 for more information, but to summarize a few details, my dress is made up of one layer of beaded and sequined mesh, an interlining of seam foam chiffon, and a lining of cotton voile. It is made from Butterick B6074 View B, with some modifications:

  • I combined some pattern pieces to minimize seams in the beaded fabric.
  • I skipped the gathered overlay on the bodice which is recommended for solid fabrics.
  • I raised the back neckline about 1 inch.
  • I extended the bottom front bodice about 1 inch since I was not trying to achieve the tiny bodice/pushup bra look.

Note: Butterick B6074 runs large! It has a lot of ease built in for the modern wearer. I recommend going down 2 sizes.

a

For undergarments I am wearing a shift, short stays, a corded petticoat and a ruffled petticoat. I normally would not wear a corded petticoat with Regency but this dress is heavy.

I have decided to go with a rose velvet for the train, and I have been spending far too much time searching for pink velvets, getting swatches, and looking for trim. However, I think we have a winner. IMG_1185.JPG

I still need to order the rest of the fabric and find the trim, but I’ve purchased lining and have the pattern ready. I’m mulling over whether I should use my leftover beads and sequins to decorate the trim, but that may be madness speaking.

By the way, in case you think my life is glamorous, here’s a peek at real life (bad posture, clutter, and photobombing) vs. the cropped version of a selected few pictures for the blog!img_1155

UPDATE:

I wrote a tutorial for this dress, which Fabric Wholesale Direct spiffed and made into this post on their website! 

All the fabric I used for this project is from Fabric Wholesale Direct. Thank you!