It's here! At last! The long awaited 1860s post!! We just took the pictures today, otherwise this post would have happened much sooner.
Here's the story about this dress; while we were in Duluth, we went to Hannah Johnson Fabrics. I couldn't make up my mind about what fabric to buy, but then I happened to stroll through the Christmas fabric section. Ordinarily I wouldn't give tuppence for most of those snowman/poinsettia fabrics, but there was one that caught my eye. This beautiful, Christmas-y but not too Christmas-y print. The very moment I laid eyes on it I knew that it would make a perfect "old-fashioned" dress of some sort. At the hotel that night, I was scrolling through Pinterest (of course) and saw this ruffle-icious, beautiful gown. I knew that it was the dress for me!
Since I knew that I wanted to make a Civil War era dress, I knew that the first step had to be correct underpinnings. I was scared. to. death. of making a corset, but it really wasn't hard at all. I used Simplicity 9769, but made it three sizes smaller than what I ordinarily make my garments. It is highly annoying that Simplicity doesn't tell you to make it smaller - if I hadn't read up on the pattern online ahead of time, I would have been in trouble!
I lined my corset, using pillow ticking for one side and a soft, beautiful, (of course pink) cotton for the other side. We found steel boning at a local colonial-era shop, so that was quite handy!
I intended to use metal grommets/eyelets, but after trying an eyelet out on a sample piece of fabric, there was no way I was going to mar my whole project with one of those dreadful things. So, I jumped onto the bandwagon of hand-bound-eyelet-makers! It was quite easy, however time-consuming.
Then, I went about making my corded petticoat, which I also starched.
Once I had the undergarment department up to speed, it was time to dive into the dress.
It seemed at first like it would be an impossible task to make a dress when I had no pattern for it, but then I looked in the pattern drawer to see what we had. Lo and behold, Simplicity 1818 had the same exact darts and lines as the original dress! That was a victorious moment!!
So I went to work assembling a mockup. Do you think I could be one of the sizes in the pattern packet? Certainly not! I had to be a half size because I always want to do things in the most complicated fashion. Ahem.
I altered the bodice a bit, making the neckline round, lengthening the sides of the bodice and shortening the front. The next dilemma was the sleeves. Despite the fact that the original dress did not have gathered sleeves, I did want gathered sleeves. I used the sleeve pattern piece from Butterick 5831, narrowing them down by 3-4 inches.
Once I got done with all of that figuring, it was time to start cutting. The only problem was, I had 6 yards of fabric, which interprets into NOT ENOUGH! I only had enough for the bodice, skirt and sleeves. Problem. So I started looking online for this fabric, and found the needed 3 yards of it from Lori at Stitches N' Giggles on Etsy. She had it on sale for $6.95 a yard! (I paid $10 per yard originally.) Lori was amazing to work with, answered all of my questions, and shipped the package at the speed of lightning.
I cut the skirt out of three widths of (44") fabric. The front of the skirt is one width, with just two pleats in the front. The back has....yeah. a million. It took alot of ironing, pinning, ironing, pinning, basting, taking out basting, pinning, ironing, measuring, ironing, pinning and basting, but I finally succeeded in getting it just right. So I thought. Until I basted it onto the bodice, when I found out that pleats go a little wonky sometimes. More taking out and putting in of basting. Still no success. At that point, I was getting a little too frustrated to keep working on the dress, so I set it aside and made my calico Regency dress. It was a nice reprieve, which refreshed me enough to get back to this dress the following day. I finally got the pleats to lay right, sewed the seam, and continued on.
I did not have the time nor the knowledge to do a dog-leg opening, so I stooped to putting in a side hook-and-eye closure. I know, it's quite a despicable thing to do. Next time, though, I will attack authentic Civil War dress openings!
The cuffs are just pieces of fabric (something insane like 35" long) with 18 million pleats. I tacked a ribbon on after finishing the seams.
I was at a loss to know what to do for a belt. It is hard to tell what exactly the original dress' belt buckle is made of, but whatever it is, I didn't have one. So, I decided to just make a pleated piece of fabric and sew it on for a focal point. It didn't come out altogether bad.
The bodice is lined with muslin, so the neckline was exceedingly fun to finish. Or not. Way too many layers of fabric going on. I did conquer it, however, using a bias self-facing, and tacking it down just like in the picture.
The ruffles on the hem were a long-time undertaking, but so worth it. They add so much to the look of the dress. And, I haven't had to iron them *yet*! Our local fabric shop *just happened* to have 17 yards of the perfect red ribbon leftover from the 4th of July, and it was on sale 40% off. That was an absolute miracle. I was praying the whole time the lady was measuring it, because it did not look like there would be anywhere near enough. God answered my prayers and had there be the perfect amount! Praise the Lord!
^My American Duchess Renoirs!!!^ I love them sooooo much. They're absolutely comfortable, and so beautiful!! I am extremely happy with them. Thank you to Chris and Lauren for the amazing shoes!!
Our "trying to look serious" pose.
My mom made a Christmas dress as well, which she'll be posting on her blog in a few days.
As you can see, we really had an amazingly snowy day to take pictures in. It was something like 60 degrees out, and sunny, and green, and brown. Oh well.
I'll be back next week, hopefully, with another dress post!
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Be sure to link up your Christmas dress at Edelweiss Patterns!