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Victorian Bathing Suit

Costume College is just days away! Yesterday I finished my Victorian bathing suit for the Thursday night pool party.

I was inspired by this bathing suit from the Met Museum.

IMG_4848I made mine out of a gray and black wool/polyester blend. I didn’t have time to order red petersham, so I used grosgrain ribbon for the trim. It looks nice on straight lines, but doesn’t curve as well as I would have liked for the collar and sleeves.

Here are a few quick photos of the outfit!

IMG_4932Oops, I didn’t notice I put my belt on off-center.IMG_4934 IMG_4936 IMG_4938I didn’t have time to make bathing shoes, so I bought some cheap $6 flats from Amazon and used up the rest of the ribbon I had left. This photo looks like it was taken by someone else, but really I leaned over, then turned it upside down!IMG_4941I used Ageless Patterns #1410 to make the dress and bloomers.

1410The pattern isn’t awful, but I can’t really recommend it. Ageless Patterns are traced from extant patterns and magazines of the period, which makes them historically accurate, but lacking in directions and specifics about size. This pattern was simply listed as “medium.” (I think it fits more like a large). The arm holes are also strangely big, the shoulders are rather low, the sleeves didn’t quite fit right, and the collar piece was completely useless. It was a bizarre shape and didn’t fit. I eventually gave up and just bound the neckline.

The good thing about the pattern, aside from the sleeves and collar, is that it is ridiculously easy to put together. The dress consists of one back piece and 2 front pieces, and you gather at the waist. The bloomers consist of a front and back for each leg.

Since the pattern was large on me I was able to cheat on the closures. I put an elastic channel into the waist, which is covered by the belt. The dress from the waist down is sewn shut, and the top half closes with hooks and eyes. The buttons are false! No making buttonholes! I just pull this dress over my head, put the belt on, and then hook up the top. Super easy, and comfortable, too!

Project cost:

  • 4 yards wool blend: $54.35 including tax (hooray for the clearance table at Britex!) – I still have more than 1 yard left
  • 3 yards Kaufman Duet Linining: $6.86 including tax and shipping (with a coupon and free shipping from Fabric.com)
  • 2 rolls of grosgrain ribbon: $5.23 including tax (with a coupon from Michael’s)
  • 10 buttons: $0, kit left over from my maid dress
  • shoes: $6.27 including free shipping from Amazon
  • pattern: $15 + $4.85 shipping from Etsy

Total: $92.56

(Edit: Post updated! I forgot to add in the price of the pattern).

Past Patterns 702 (Dart Fitted Bodices) Review

I made my 1850s gown using Past Patterns 702 (Dart Fitted Bodices). I found some good reviews online, especially about the ease of construction, so I decided to give it a try. Although it was a useful starting point, and there are other nice things about the pattern, it is not a pattern I would recommend if you are small-busted and long-waisted.

CONSTRUCTION

Pro: There are not a lot of pieces, so construction is not difficult. The pattern is relatively simple, and consists of pieces for the bodice front, bodice back, side back, your choice of a pagoda or coat sleeve, and an optional epaulet. There is also an undersleeve pattern if you make the pagoda sleeve.

Con: Because of the pattern encompasses sizes 8-26, and appears to be scaled by computer and not hand-drafted, some of the pieces don’t quite fit together. Here are the pattern pieces for the bodice back and bodice side back, compared to the lining for the back:

IMG_2997FIT

Pro: The fitting is done at the shoulders and side seams. The pattern suggests cutting out your lining as a mock-up, then having a friend help you fit it. When you sew your fashion fabric you finish the front closures before taking in the side seams to fit yourself. If it works, it’s very simple.

Con: To employ this technique, you must have a friend help you, or a dress form with shoulders (because of the historically accurate dropped shoulder), or keep putting the bodice on and taking it off.

Con: The lining for the back of the bodice is one larger piece encompassing both the bodice back and side pieces. There is no explanation on how to translate the adjustment you made on one pattern piece into two pattern pieces.

Con: The size chart is inaccurate and the pattern is too large. According to the pattern I am between a size 10 and 12. The size 10 was too large for me. Even when I recut the pieces to size 8, it was still too big.

Con: There was a huge excess of fabric in the chest and shoulder area. Since I have a small bust I am used to taking in patterns a bit, but usually not as much as I needed to this time.  I realized that this pattern is designed to fit someone with enough assets to spill over the top of her corset, and slightly broader shoulders. In the end, to make this fit I had to not only drastically alter the front bodice piece, and a little of the shoulder seam in the back bodice piece, but I had to also stuff my corset with bust pads when wearing the dress. This photo shows my fabric on top of the size 8 pattern (but with the size 12 seam lines at the bottom because otherwise it would have been too short in the front). I also had to move the darts a little bit. (My final pattern still had 2 darts, but I did not cut out the second one).

IMG_2999Con: I am not sure how much of the problem stems from my adjustments, or if this is an issue you would encounter even without such a change, but my sleeves did not fit into the sleeve heads. I had to gather the sleeve to make it fit, and did not have the smooth transition I was expecting.

If you have the ideal Victorian figure, and can fill out a corset, I think this pattern would be quite flatting and easy to put together. If you are on the petite side, it would be easier to find another pattern that does require quite so much adjustment.

1850s Plaid Silk Dress for Dickens Fair

My next big project was supposed to be a gown for the PEERS Game of Thrones ball in February, but I’ve been distracted by my 18th century stays and now, a new 1850s plaid silk dress for the Dickens Fair.

I wasn’t planning to make a new dress for the fair, but then I ran across some lovely plaid silk for a bargain price of $60 for 6 yards of 54 inch fabric! It is a dupioni and not a taffeta but it’s not too slubby, and the busy pattern and dim light of Dickens will make it look nice.

Here are a couple sneak peeks.

Cartridge pleats! The skirt has its waistband, placket, hooks and eyes, and pockets. It still needs to be hemmed and trimmed. This was my first time doing cartridge pleats. I was originally planning to knife-pleat the skirt for speed, but then was home sick for 2 days with a cold, so what else can one do when Netflix is playing?

IMG_3017The pagoda sleeves are trimmed with satin ribbon.

IMG_3021The bodice is in progress. I still need to iron flat the seams, put in darts and closures, and do a lot of finishing. Matching curved plaid that isn’t symmetrical is driving me nuts! One part of a seam will match, and another not.

IMG_3022I had to pretty much redraft the pattern I’m using (Past Patterns 702), which was not designed for someone with my shape, but I will make a more detailed review in another post.