Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Regency Hat

A little late in posting, I present to you my submission for HSF Challenge #8: By the Sea. I'm so caught up in finishing my Gibson Girl evening gown for this weekend that I've had very little time for other sewing. I struggled to come up with something that would meet the requirements of the challenge, but not take up too much of my valuable sewing time. Then I had a sudden inspiration: the silk I am using for the dress is a lovely blue-green that reminds me of the sea. I have plenty of extra fabric, so I decided to use some of it for a quick and easy seaside project.

I happened to read this lovely blog post on Austenprose after following a link posted to the HSF Facebook group, and decided that a Regency era hat would be just the thing. Fashionable headgear would have been de rigeur for any lady visiting a watering place such as Brighton. What else would she wear while strolling along the shore? Something jaunty and a bit sporty would suit the seaside mood perfectly. 

In my internet-surfing search for inspiration, I came upon this post by Catherine at Koshka the Cat detailing the construction of her adorable red silk capote. Scrounging about in my stash, I procured all the other necessary materials, then whipped up my own version. 

Without further ado, here it is, my sea-blue promenade capote:

The details:

The Challenge: #8 — By the Sea

Fabric: Blue-green silk taffeta leftover from my Gibson Girl dress

Year: 1790s-1810s

Notions: buckram, millinery wire, and cotton flannel interlining for brim; tarlatan interlining and cotton voile lining for crown; beautiful vintage ribbon, white and sheer with pale seafoam picot edge

How historically accurate is it? I must confess, I have not done extensive research for this project, so I cannot attest to its accuracy. I trust Catherine's accuracy standards, and Timely Tresses sells a pattern for a very similar hat, and I trust their research standards as well. My best guess is that this is fairly accurate. 

Hours to complete: 6 hours

First worn: Will be worn to some unknown, hopefully seaside, future Regency event

Total cost: I spent about $20 on the ribbon, everything else came from my stash

Monday, April 22, 2013

Gibson Girl Skirt

I finished the basic construction of the skirt for my Gibson Girl gown about two weeks ago, but I didn't get around to photographing it until today. Here it is in its un-trimmed state:




Laid flat — this shows how simple the shape of the skirt is. The only seam is at center back (top straight edge in this photo). Additional shaping is provided by one small dart on each side of the waist. 

Construction details:

First I made the foundation skirt, a free-hanging lining attached to the outside skirt only at the placket and waistband. It serves as a petticoat, providing shape and structure for the fullness of the skirt. I cut the foundation on the same pattern as my skirt, but made it about 1-1/2" shorter. As seen above, it is a partial circle skirt, cut so that the majority of the fullness falls in the back. Since the hemline is very curved, I used a 4" bias facing as a hem. I followed period examples and interlined the hem with a bias strip of tarlatan, a lightweight, open-weave cotton that is heavily sized. It is light but firm, and when cut on the bias, behaves much like modern horsehair braid, providing structure and body without stiffness or weight. I added a dust ruffle inside the skirt, to help the bottom stand out from the legs while wearing it. The ruffle is about 6" deep, pinked on both edges, and gathered over a thin cotton cord.

The outside skirt is cut to "dancing length", just skimming the tops of my feet. It is hemmed the same way as the foundation skirt, with a 3" bias facing (without interlining, however).

Here are detail shots of the hems:

Lining dust ruffle

Lining hem

Skirt hem

The skirt and foundation are joined at the placket, which consists of a 1" underlap of the outside fabric. The placket closes with snaps, which began to be used during this period. Since there is no pleating or fullness in the skirt where the placket is, I thought snaps would be best for keeping the opening concealed. Both skirt layers are attached to a 3/4" wide waistband made from the blue silk. The waistband closes with two hooks and eyes.

Skirt placket and waistband

Now the skirt just needs trimming! I will be adding a deep chiffon flounce, a band of beaded trimming, and some accents made from a deep pink silk.

The bodice for the dress is nearly finished as well. More details on that coming up soon!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Gibson Girl Bodice Base

It's time for a progress update on my Gibson Girl gown. I finished the bodice base about a week ago. It took forever! Sewing the bodice was quick and easy since I was good and made a proper mockup to adjust all the fitting issues beforehand, but I spent several days just on the finishing.

First I trimmed, clipped, and scalloped all the seam allowances. Then, I overcast them all by hand. I sewed boning casings to each seam, again by hand. To ensure that the bodice sits smoothly over the boning, I followed a process described in period dressmaking manuals. As I stitched the casings down to the seam allowances, I left extra ease in the tape for a few inches in either side of the waistline, where the body has the most inward curve. Then, when I inserted the boning, I stretched the bodice lengthwise, causing the boning to bow in slightly. If you don't follow this process, the bodice may crinkle slightly at the waist when worn. It is a simple but ingenious way to ensure a smooth fit.

Next, I finished the neckline with a cotton ribbon as a facing and ran a narrow ribbon through it to use as a drawstring to draw up the neckline as needed. I then applied bias facings to the armscyes and to the bottom edge, which I interlined with a bias strip of tarlatan to give it structure. Lastly, I made a waist stay out of petersham and tacked it onto the back seam allowances. I sewed the bodice seams by machine, but after that every step of the process was completed by hand. The only shortcut I took was to use hook-and-eye tape for the bodice closure, instead of sewing on individual hooks and eyes. It's not the prettiest finish, but at least I was able to use my machine!

Here's the completed bodice base:

On the dressform

Back view

Laid flat


Armhole facing

Bottom Edge

Pretty soon I can start working on the parts people will actually see!!

I have made a lot of progress on the skirts (yes, there are two). As soon as the outer skirt hem is finished, I'll post some pictures.

Gibson Girl Hair Accessory

For Challenge #7 of the Historical Sew Fortnightly, I made a small and simple hair accessory to wear with my upcoming Gibson Girl evening gown. I have been hard at work sewing the dress and have made a lot of progress (I'll post some updates very soon). All the sewing time I've had lately has been dedicated to that epic undertaking, which is why I haven't been blogging much lately, and why I didn't complete a project for Challenge #6 (I have several striped garments in planning stages, but just didn't have time to work on any of them this month). Taking a break from garment construction to whip up this accessory was a welcome break.

The window of time I am focusing on for this project is the years right around the turn of the century, 1899 to about 1903. If you spend as much time looking at fashion plates from that period as I have, you will notice that the increasingly voluminous hairstyles are often accompanied by sprays of feathers, flowers, and/or perky ribbon bows.

Here are some examples:

The lady on the right has a spray of black plumage on her head.

Get past her giant chest bow for a minute, and see the arrangement of ribbon loops in her hair.

Her plumage is quite impressive.

I just love the jaunty black bow. 

And here's my version (modelled on my most recent attempt at giant Gibson Girl hair):

The ribbon bow, which seemed pretty big when I made it, is dwarfed in comparison with my bouffant updo.

A side view 

And the hair accessory on its own. 

Making it was more complicated than you might think. The feathers are small clusters of fronds that I stripped from an ostrich drab. I bound them together clump by clump, wrapping their bases in thread as I went. I then constructed the bow from black velvet ribbon, and attached the feather spray to the back of the bow. I didn't add anything to affix it to my hair, but simply anchored it in my bun with a long hairpin. 

The details:

The Challenge: #7 — Accessorize

Fabric: None

Pattern: None, just improvised

Year: ca 1900

Notions: 1 black ostrich drab, 1/2 yd. 2" wide black velvet ribbon, black polyester thread

How historically accurate is it? I don't have any historical examples to compare it with, but the techniques I used are compatible with period millinery. 

Hours to complete: 1 hour (not counting the updo!)

First worn: Will be worn April 27 at the Gaskell Ball

Total cost: about $6