Wednesday, October 5, 2016

• 1860s Underpinnings •

I must admit to being rather excited about today's post.  All of these fluffy white and pink things make my heart happy!!!  ;D

Since I acquired some new underpinnings semi-recently, I wanted to do a post showing the basics that I wear under my 1860s dresses. 

Starting with Layer #1, we have the drawers!  These were so fun and easy to make, and, well, quite funny too.  ;D  I used Simplicity 9769, just lengthening them by about 70 inches or so.  (Only a slight exaggeration.)

I had always been one for making the most boring, plain, blank-slate underpinnings.  No contrasts.  No lace.  No tucks.  Just make the thing in the quickest and easiest way possible so you can wear it.  Sarah, on the other hand, makes the prettiest things.  Long story short, she finally convinced me that it is actually worth it to take a little more time and effort and make pretty, frilly things.  And she is so right.  :)  Thanks for persuading me, Sarah!!!!!!!

I didn't have any wide lace for the legs of the drawers, so I opted for tucks, ruching, and narrower lace trim, inspired by this pair of original 1860s drawers.  I like the result, although obviously my tucks and such are bigger than the originals.  The main fabric is muslin.

Layer #2 features my favorite piece of the whole ensemble: my new chemise that Sarah made for me!!  She was the sweetest and offered to whip me one up, which she did.  :)  Until now I wore my regency chemise with everything, but now I have a pretty, period-correct one to wear.  Thank you, Sarah!!  <3

This was also made from Simplicity 9769, out of fine, soft muslin, with quite a few alterations.  In short, the body is cut 5 sizes smaller than what I would normally wear, the yoke and shoulders 4 sizes smaller, and the body of the chemise lengthened about 70 inches, once again (that's almost for real in this case!).  Instead of the terribly constricting sleeves that came with the pattern (even when cut in the normal size!), she added gorgeous eyelet lace instead.  I love it that way!!  :)

The chemise is supposed to be an off-the-shoulder style, in order to accomodate a ball gown, but even for that style, the pattern is made very strangely.  When cut 4 sizes smaller, the yoke fit as it was supposed to - just grazing the shoulders.  If it was cut in the "correct" size, it would be falling right off.  Weird?!

In any case, since I don't plan on making any off-the-shoulder ball gowns any time soon (as in never!), a tuck was taken in the back, and the front was overlapped about 1-1/4" extra, so that it fit comfortably without falling off the shoulders.

Layer #3?  Corset!!  Made from Simplicity 9769 (I guess you could say we like that pattern!), it is made of quilting cotton and lined with tightly-woven pillow ticking.  After making a mockup, I found I needed to make it 3 sizes smaller than my standard size, and that worked just right.  Thelma Lou (our beloved dressform) has a totally different body shape than I do, and she's also a bit stiffer than I (haha!), so the stays don't fit her very well, but on me they lace up quite perfectly.  I almost want to make another pair, just for how fun and pretty they are!!  :)

I used straight steel boning, and omitted the center front busk (I know, weird), so it slips on easily over the head.  The eyelets in back are all hand-sewn.

I would love to try another corset pattern just for fun someday, to see how much waist reduction is actually possible.  But with this one I can get 2" reduction, max.  It is quite comfortable, although after a whole day of wearing it (especially with riding in the car), I get a very sore right hip.  It is still very comfortable, however, and I would highly recommend the pattern.

Now for Layer #4 - another top favorite!  :) 
I was planning a sheer Civil War dress earlier this year, and so needed a corset cover to wear beneath it.  I surprised everyone (including myself!) and bought two different laces to use on it; one intricate leaf-patterned cotton eyelet, and a very delicate cotton lace trim for edging.  The main fabric is cotton batiste.

Although there are many frillier ones out there than mine, I still just love it!

Inspired by this original corset cover, I made two tucked panels, sewed lace in between and on each edge of them, then sewed pieces of flat batiste on each side of that.  Once that was done, I cut out the actual shape of the corset cover.  I used the lining pieces from Butterick 5831 for the basic shape, altering it here and there as needed.  

Since the waistband needed to be fitted, I had to take two large darts on each side, and add a few gathers on each side of them.  It might be a little bit unorthodox, but it worked!

(Inside view)

All of the seams inside the corset cover are finished, and there isn't one stitch of serging!!!  I'm proud of myself!!!  ;)

I turned the seams next to the lace insets over themselves (sort of a flat-felled seam) and slip-stitched them in place invisibly.  The shoulder seams are french seams, as are the sides.

Probably my favorite part of the whole corset cover - the super fun side opening!!!  :D  This is the type of thing that I always dread in projects, even though they are not actually hard at all.

Thelma Lou's waist was too large for the waistband to be able to hook-and-eye together, but on me, it closes well.  There is a hook and eye at the armhole as well, and snaps in between. 

Layer #5 - underpetticoat!  This is my favorite petticoat by far, all full of tucks and cords.  Once again, it pales in comparison to other petticoats from the 1860s, and others that contemporary seamstresses have made, but for my level of patience, I love it.  ;)

On top of all of these layers would of course be a hoop skirt/crinoline, and an over-petticoat.  I didn't get a picture of either of these, but you can visualize it easily enough. 

I hope you enjoyed seeing these garments!  :)  Thanks for stopping by!

Also - if you haven't stopped by my Dolly Creates Etsy shop lately, I just listed several new garments and an apron that are all perfect for fall.  Hop over to my shop and check them out!

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  1. I absolutely adore undergarments from past eras, I find them absolutely enchanting. Thank you for sharing your pretties x

  2. Oh Esther, what sweet loveliness! I can see why the pink and fluffy things make you happy as they made me quite happy to look at them {{smiles}} Sarah is a wise woman and indeed, it's worth it to make thing extra pretty and feminine, even if you're the only one that sees it.

    A beautiful post! Hugs to you!

  3. I was in a group that dressed period correct - now we know why they had assistance getting dressed huh? It's a lot of work. Mine weren't plain but not as snazzy as these😉 They are lovely.

  4. So fun to see the whole batch of frillies all together! You have some darling pieces here and of course I can attest to how fun it is to wear such things. :) I love all the detail shots of the lace and tucks....and especially the one of the legs sticking out from the chemise. That one made me laugh! The corset cover and petticoat look like originals. :D Good job, Esther! Love you!

  5. So wonderfully pretty. I love the feminine details and that gorgeous pink corset. Thank you for this peak at what lies beneath, so to speak. :)

    xoxo ♥ Jessica

  6. Wow, these are all absolutely gorgeous, so much pretty!! It's just wonderful to see all that white muslin, lace and pink together, it's so feminine. Modern underpinnings are so boring in comparison! xx

  7. Oh how wonderful are all of your 1860s underthings! You did a fabulous job on them all and I am so proud of you (and your level of patience!!!) with that awesome under petti with the cords and tucks! Huzzah!! Your corset cover is very similar to what I'm planning to make to go with my new 60s all the eyelet lace you chose! So incredibly beautiful! And your corset it so sweet and pretty in pink!! LOVE!!! Can't wait to see your sheer dress when you get it made!

  8. Thank you ladies so much!!! I love frilly underthings too, so this was a fun project all the way around. Thanks for your lovely comments!!! <3 :)


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