Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Civil War Series • Part I • Sarah's Blue Stripe Dress


I'm so excited about today's post! For the next couple of weeks, I'll be posting about our Civil War dresses we recently made.

My dear friend Sarah flew out here a couple of weeks ago for a week-long visit that included some serious sewing and a Civil War reenactment. When she got here, she still needed to finish sewing the binding onto her corset and put in the grommets. Once she was done with that, we started cutting into the dress fabric. We made the dress from start to finish in about a day and a half. :D There were a couple of pretty late nights, but we got it licked. And boy, oh boy, did it ever come out beautifully!!! Thank you, Lord!!


We used Laughing Moon #111, which I would highly recommend! We didn't make a mockup, just did a few basic measurements, but it ended up fitting her *perfectly* with almost no alterations. The only alterations needed were taking in the sides a tiny bit (which we knew would be necessary being she was in between sizes) and raising the darts about an inch. It was such an easy pattern to put together, and it fits so well! :)



Sarah wanted to cut the bodice on the bias in order to have a chevron effect, so she enlisted my mom, the queen of stripe-matching, to match it up. And she did, ever so amazingly!!! She changed the bodice front overlap a little bit in order to make the chevron be in the center. 



Then came the back bodice. :D Which she also matched up impeccably. 


The Civil War reenactment that we attended, although the biggest one in my home state, was rather unimpressive. Admittedly, the only other reenactment I have been to happened to be the biggest one of that era in the United States, but even so, this one was definitely lacking. There was a total of four sutlers, only one of which had period-correct items for sale, and they were all soldier-oriented, with nothing for the ladies. There was a fashion show that was quite fun and interesting, and a weaver with a 1790s loom, so those two highlights helped make up for what was lacking. 

It was also about 40* F out and extremely windy, with occasional rain, so that put a damper on everything a bit as well! Thankfully we had three capes and some shawls to wear, so we kept the frostbite away, at least. But still, my hands got colder than they've ever been before in my life. :|

That being said, it was still quite a lot of fun, and a very good excuse to make Civil War dresses. 

But then, any excuse to make them is a good one, right?!! ;)


She piped the back, sleeve, neck and waist seams. The skirt is pleated onto a waistband, and the bodice is stitched to the waistband in between the piping and the bodice. The top edge of the waistband is slip-stitched to the bodice lining. 

Even though we made the dress in a hurry, we still did all stitching that's visible on the outside by hand. :)


Layers, layers!! :D She wore a beautiful tucked under-petticoat beneath her hoop, and a fluffy, ruffled petticoat over top. All of them combined made for the perfect silhouette! Thankfully, her hoopskirt survived being packed into a suitcase, and didn't get removed for inspection! ;)


The fabric she used for this dress happens to be the blue version of my green striped 1940s dress fabric. We didn't get any decent pictures of them together as of yet, but perhaps the next time we get together we can do just that! We want to do a century-spanning photo shoot, with each of us looking positively *shocked* at each other's outfits. ;)

This was such a fun project to work on, and we were all thrilled with how it came out!

Thanks for letting us help with your gorgeous dress, Sarah! You look beautiful!!! <3
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19 comments:

  1. The construction of this is soooo amazing! O.O

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    1. Thank you, Kira! Isn't it the prettiest? She did a lovely job on it. :)

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  2. Wow. all that piping and stripe matching. truly impressive. Gorgeous dress! Can't believe it only took a day and a half! I bet you were the prettiest ladies at the reenactment!

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    1. I love doing piping on just about any garment, but stripes are definitely way out of my league. So I was tickled to see my vision for this dress become a reality, thanks to Esther's talented mom! I was going to be perfectly satisfied with the chevrons front and back, not *too* outlandish, right....but then she knew how and took the time to match up the back side pieces too...all on a curve, with stripes on top and bottom. I was nervous as a goose to sew it (with the piping in the seam to boot) because I didn't want to botch it! But it turned out just perfectly, with only one back seam ripped out once to realign the stripes. :) Thank you so much for your sweet comments! :)

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    2. Thank you so much, Robin!! Yes indeed, my mom is a regular master at stripe-matching, and Sarah is an impressive seamstress. :) We had a lot of fun!!

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  3. As a Civil War reenactor myself, I have to say BRAVO! Well done. I give the highest compliments on the fit of you gown and the dropped armholes on the bodice. Getting a period fit is one of the hardest things to do. Sewing 19th century garb for years and 20th century only recently, I am so glad you got one important detail spot on: the collar at the neckline! Well done! It's that little detail that really makes a Civil war dress one more step to being period. I'm sorry the event was chilly and there was a lack of sutlers . ..I know what that is like . .. I'm reenacting this weekend and the weather is calling for rain, rain, rain. Anyway, good job and keep up the good work.
    Jennie from theuglydame.blogspot.com

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    1. Esther and her mom immediately noticed the difference the collar made when they were pinning/fitting the dress on me in parts and pieces. :) Once I saw it, I too agreed. Thank you for your kind comments!

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    2. Thank you so much, Jennie!! It is so sweet of you to say! And I agree, I love the collar! I definitely need to whip some of those up, as they are a beautiful touch, and a needed addition for a camp/working impression, as opposed to a crocheted collar.
      Hope your reenactment went well and was dry! :)
      Thank you again!

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  4. This is so incredibly beautiful. I love the sweet, feminine fabric and entire silhouette of this classic mid-Victorian dress. Amazing work across the board!

    xoxo ♥ Jessica

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    1. Thank you, Jessica! That's what happens when one has sweet, talented friends such as Esther and her mom. :) And I was relieved that my incredibly ruffled petticoat wasn't too much after all....when it was on my dressform I wondered what I'd gone and sewn (a marshmallow monster??). ;) But it was just the touch to make that perfect silhouette once I had the rest of the outfit on. Soooo much fun!!!

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    2. Thank you so much, Jessica!! :)

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  5. What a wonderful article, Esther! You certainly are sweet to feature my dress first, and to include so many lovely photos. (wink, wink!) Reading through this brought back all the fine memories of sewing this dress, and of getting to try it on for the first time as you and your mom fit it for me, and then wearing it for both the reenactment and photo shoot. You two are terrific friends to have worked so hard to make this dress as beautiful as it is. What fun it was, and I am so thankful for your time and expertise. I couldn't have done it without either of you. I love you both! :)

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    1. Thank you, Sarah A.!! I could hardly start with anyone else than the star of our fun photo shoot and sewing expedition! ;) We did indeed have a blast, and uh, I can't wait for the upcoming repeat performance! Only even more fun, I have a feeling, with more than 1.2 sutlers and such. ;)
      Thanks for trusting us with your gorgeous fabric and all! I'm so glad it turned out so beautifully.
      We love you too! :D

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  6. What a fun time for friends to share! The dress is beautiful, and your mom did an amazing job matching all of the stripes!

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    1. Thank you so much, Sarah! It was indeed a fun time. Thanks for commenting, as always!! :)

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  7. Lovely dress! I love petticoats, such a charming by gone era!

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    1. Thank you, Ashley!! I love them too; so much fun to wear! One feels like such a lady when wearing them. :)

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