Ah, posting again at last!! It has been a very hectic couple of weeks, hence the unannounced absence.
Today's post is about my new Civil War dress!! This dress was a lot of fun to make, start to finish. The fabric was my favorite pretty much from the time I first saw it, and I still just love it. We had a real time getting fabric for our dresses, however, since the first yardage we had picked out (coordinating pink and brown florals) ended up being sold out from under us. Eventually though, I happened upon Whittle's Fabrics' website, and was very excited to look through what they had. All of their fabrics are very reasonably priced, and most range from $5-7.50 per yard. This blue fabric was $5 a yard, and is a very nice quality Windham 1860s reproduction. When you need 8+ yards of fabric for a dress, a good deal like that is always appreciated!! ;)
I went for a very simple but elegant day dress look, since I had neither the materials nor the knowledge to make a big, immense, trim-covered, fancy silk dress.
I used Simplicity 1818 for a basic bodice pattern, but did quite a bit of altering. I had read someplace that raising the armscye (and altering the underarm of the sleeve accordingly) on Civil War dresses helped vastly with the fit, and being able to raise your arms more easily. That was definitely something I wanted to try, since my other 1860s-ish dress is very restricting in that area. It really worked with this blue dress, and I will definitely be doing it again! I also changed the center front opening to be a center back opening, changed the neckline, bodice length, and fitted it.
Jen's tutorial for applying hook-and-eye tape (yes, I cheated there) was very helpful! It was quite easy to sew on, and was miles easier than sewing on bunches of fiddly hooks and eyes.
The seams (curved back seams, shoulders, waist, and sleeve) are piped, and as with Sarah's dress, the bodice is sewn to the skirt in the space between the piping and the bodice.
And although the inside seams are machine-stitched and finished with serging, all stitching visible to the outside was done by hand.
I *really* wanted to have a basket to carry with me at the reenactment, so I went hunting for them everywhere. After missing the first Ebay auction on one basket, I found another one identical to the first and was able to purchase it. Although it cost more than I would have liked ($26 or so), it is a very nice basket, brand new, and apparently a very good basket brand (Nantucket).
My bonnet is from Regency Austentation on Etsy, and as always, I was so pleased with my purchase from Laura! The bonnet is very nice quality, and such a fun shape!
I wanted to do something along the lines of this bonnet from The Met, with a pleated bavolet (aka "curtain," when one can't remember said appropriate term....), and simple ties over the top.
I ordered some silk taffeta from Sara of Ensembles of the Past. It was exactly what I was looking for; a tiny check, period-appropriate silk taffeta, and in the perfect colors!! My bavolet didn't come out quite as I had envisioned, but I'm still pretty happy with it.
Paired with my dress, naturally, are my favorite American Duchess Renoirs. Those boots never cease to amaze me; they are more comfortable than bedroom slippers, whether you are walking around the house, through the grocery store (that's a whole different story in and of itself), or trudging around at a reenactment all day. They are AMAZING, and I would highly recommend them to anyone looking for a gorgeous, comfortable CW boot.
As for the skirt underpinnings, I wore a gathered, corded, ruffle-hemmed under-petticoat, a hoop ($30 on Ebay, and not the greatest quality, but still pretty decent for the price) with an extra ruffle at the hem for added length, and a pleated over-petticoat with a 12" hem facing to help prevent the "lampshade" effect.
This crocheted collar is one that my great-grandma made, so it was quite special to be able to pair it with my dress! The brooch was from an antique shop in Minnesota a few years back. I always wanted to wear it with a historical dress! :)
The sleeves are from Butterick 5831, made exactly as the pattern, but gathered onto a wider cuff. The puffiness is quite fun, but I also can't wait to try a more fitted sleeve on my next dress.
The skirt is made of 4 widths of fabric (about 176" around, total), pleated down to 30". The centers front and back are simply box pleated, while the sides are double-inverted-box-pleated, or some such. ;) A better description would be "whatever it took to get it down to the right measurement." :) The hem is faced with about 10" of muslin. Thanks to all the extra ruffles and hem facings, there wasn't a hint of "lampshade-ing," even with immense wind at the reenactment.
:) And lastly, a fun photo of Sarah and I. The three of us had such a time taking these photos, proof of which being the fact that we used up all 380-some pictures on the memory card. :) So I'm afraid you're doomed to a couple more Civil War posts; hopefully you're enjoying reading them as much as I am recalling our adventures!!
Sarah had heard or read a saying somewhere that stated the fact that if just one person puts on historical clothing and goes out in public, they make a scene. If two people do, everyone says "Oh, look at those fruitcakes/nutjobs!" But then, when three people wear it, it turns into an event, and people actually think it's neat.
We really put that theory to the test on the day that we took these photos, and it turned out to be quite true!! When my mom and I go out in our historical clothing, we most definitely do get the "fruitcake" and "nutjob" looks and scowls, but with there being three of us, we got positive comments, looks of amazement, and friendly questions about our clothing.
Never fear, Mom and I are still going to wear our historical clothing, but it was just amazing to witness the difference in peoples' attitudes. ;)
There was one rather hilarious (or alarming) encounter I had, however, when the three of us stopped at the grocery store whilst wearing these dresses. An average-height lady pulled me aside and was asking about my dress, in a very nice way, and then proceeded to ask, in all seriousness, if "I was really that tall, or did I have stilts on?" I proceeded to show her a stilt-free limb as proof of my height, but it was still quite hilarious. :D
I'll be back next week with another installment, so stay tuned! :) Thanks for stopping by!!