Wednesday, December 14, 2016

• 1845 Brown Dress, Finished at Last!!! •

This post may just be near the top of the list of my favorites for the whole year, so prepare yourself for an awful lot of photos.  ;)   After finishing a custom order and making a few skirts, I found myself in the mood for a nice, easy historical project!  Enter the 1845 brown dress, which I had started about a year and a half ago, and had the dress assembled except for attaching the bodice to the skirt.   I measured the bodice length of my blue floral 1860s dress and used it as a guide for this one, added piping, and sewed it together!  

Ever since I first started this dress, I wanted to get pictures of it in the winter, at a really nifty historical location.  Then this summer while at our county fair, I ended up going into this cute little cabin that they have on the fairgrounds, in which a lady was doing a loom presentation.  I knew right then that I had found my "nifty historical location," but still was unsure whether it would be accessible in the winter.  As it turns out, the drive into the fairgrounds was plowed, as was a path up to the cabin, but the snow around the cabin itself lay untouched and pristine.  With no people around (that deserves a definite hurrah!!!!!), it made for perfect pictures.  :D

My mom let me borrow her bonnet and cape, since hers are in burgundy tones rather than blue, like mine.  :)

When I originally got this fabric, I only had 6 yards.  Out of that I got the whole dress, including bias for all of the piping.  Since there was a shortage, I cut the skirt cross-wise on the fabric (one continuous piece), and it measures about 135" around.  Since I cut it that way, however, and was doing cartridge pleats which require a fold-over at the waist edge, I ended up making about a 3/8" seam at the hem when I sewed on the hem facing so that it would be long enough.  It may be a little bit shorter than your average 1840s dress, but apart from the historical correctness, or lack thereof, I really like the length!  Much easier to walk around in, and, well, it shows off my fabulous boots.  ;)

For the bodice, I used old faithful Simplicity 1818 (see other projects I've made from that pattern here), changing the front opening to a back one, and using Butterick 5831 for the sleeves, with a wide cuff.

I *love* piping!!  Not so much the sewing with it (hehe), but definitely the finished look of it.  Perhaps that is one of the benefits of creating a UFO an then finishing it; you forget all the painful details that went into it at first!  ;)

The cuffs close with hooks and eyes at the wrist. 

This is my first official garment featuring cartridge pleats!!!  In the past I have been highly skeptical of them, and just always pictured the dress coming apart the first time I wore it, but I'm beginning to think they might just be a safe option after all.  ;)  Since the skirt is not super full, the pleats don't look quite as full as they could, but I still absolutely love them.  Naturally, when I first started the dress, I used (ready for this?) plain cotton sewing thread to make the cartridge pleats.  Hehehe.  Only after I finished making them did I read that you MUST use button & craft thread or a suitable alternative. Proof of that was when I tried the skirt on for the first time and heard a very suspicious "snap."  Needless to say, I bought button & craft thread and proceeded to re-do my pleats.  ;)

Now for the best part of the whole outfit!!!!!!  The pelerine!!!!!!!!!  ;D

The bodice of the dress is not necessarily quite perfect for the 1840s; I need to do some more research, but for the great majority of the time, dresses of that period had fan-front bodices.  But since I started this before I knew much at all about the period, I can forget that just fine.  ;)

Ever since the start, I pictured making "one of those pelerine things" with ruched trim on it to go over this dress.  Well, after I finished my dress, I decided that it just needed that "pelerine thing" to make it complete, so whipped one up the day before we took these pictures.

This fabric went on clearance a few months back, so I was able to purchase some more for a pelerine.  I used the dress bodice pattern as a pattern for it, and just made it to the shape and length that I wanted.  It worked quite well, and I love how it looks.  :D

The ruched trim consists of 4 widths of fabric cut 3.25" wide, with the raw edges turned under .5", and gathered up with one basting line on each edge.  After pinning it on for ages and getting the sorest back of my life, it was ready to sew.  Since I was in a hurry, I just went ahead and machine-stitched the trim on.  The rest of the dress was machine-stitched on the inside, but all visible sewing was done by hand. 

The pelerine is lined with self-fabric, and so far has just been pinned together at the front neck edge.  Eventually I'll sew a hook and eye onto the neck edge, but for the time being I've had my fill of said occupation.  ;)

My "evening project" last week was sewing hooks and eyes onto this dress for the back opening and the cuffs.  

There are something like 14 hooks and 14 eyes on the back of the dress, plus two of each on each sleeve, and the hooks had to be sewn on super neatly because they would show on the outside.  As a result, it took a dreadful amount of time to do each one, but it was quite definitely worth it.  :)  Can't even see them on there now!!

I think I might just move into this little cabin.  Perfect house for a historical seamstress to live in, right?  ;)

The sleeve seams, cuffs, side seams, shoulder seams and back seams are all piped, and the waist edge is piped with a double piping.  I have not yet tried piping a neckline yet, but need to for sure!

The hem of the dress is faced with a separate facing, as I stated earlier.  I used plain white muslin, and cut it to be a finished width of 12".

Back on with the cape!  :)  I am not sure yet if these mittens are quite period-correct, but they may just be.  I made them several years back, with no pattern!!!!!!!!  I have no idea how I did that, and even less idea how I managed to make two of them end up the same size, but I love them anyhow.  ;)

Beneath the dress are my 1860s underpinnings, with a total of four gathered (three of them also corded) petticoats.  They are sadly not starched at present, so aren't as fluffy as they could be, but still were decently fluffy.   And they provided a very nice barrier from the cold temperatures outside!!  The fun part was, unlike any time wearing historical garments in the past, I didn't get overheated one single time when wearing this outfit.  THAT is worth getting excited about.  ;D

The most necessary boot picture.  ;)  They are Renoirs from American Duchess, and I love them *SO* much.  So comfortable and durable, and downright beautiful.

And lastly, my attempt at a daguerreotype, which resulted in not much other than blurring out my face.  Oh well.  Perhaps that is a benefit, eh?  ;)

Thanks so much for stopping by!!
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  1. Absolutely stunning, Esther! The thought and fine work that went into every detail is impressive and certainly shows in the happy glow of your face as you're wearing your outfit. Your pictures and location are equally awesome...and you do look comfy cozy! Great work, thank you for sharing! (P.S. I have yet to try cartridge pleats myself but I too LOVE piping...not the sewing, of course, like you said, but the making.)

  2. This dress is stunning, a real testament to all the work you put into it, and I absolutely love the fabric. And you found the perfect photo shoot location

  3. This dress is lovely! The color suits you really well I think, and you did a superb job with the piping!

  4. Adorable! It looks so nice and impressive! And you were right looking for the special place to take pictures!

    Can I ask you a question? I'd like to try sewing a dress from 1870's. Were can I get a pattern or a tutorial? I mean, there are many on the web, but to know what is really good if I haven't tried any yet.

    Regards from Hungary,

  5. This is such an amazing dress - you are so talented.

    I also love the photo shoot with all the log cabins and snow - it is so mild in the UK - not seasonal at all!

  6. This is so beautifully done! 1840s are not really a favourite fashion period of mine but your dress is exquisite in its workmanship and details - love that pelerine! I also really like the pop of purple/blue of the mittens against the browns and maroons of the rest of the garments. So well done, thank you for sharing!

  7. How perfectly lovely! All of the work you put in to the details definitely shows! I love the piping, especially the double piping at the waist. Now I must do something with double piping... Your pictures are wonderful because you look so happy and natural - like you belong in the era!

  8. love it!!! I wish I could sew like that!!!

  9. The fabric pops perfectly against the snow! Such a lovely autumn/winter dress. I love it!

  10. Esther, I am loving this dress! The print of the fabric is so beautiful and the ruching on the front? Awesome! Yay for on sale fabric to make that pelerine! The double piping at the waist makes me so happy! Huzzah for Mom's cape and bonnet! They are a perfect addition to your ensemble! I am so happy that there as snow by the little cabin for your photo shoot! Isn't that awesome when something you see in your head happens in real life!

  11. What an amazing job you did! I am in awe, my dear!

    And what a great location! Also, I do love a good loom demonstration. I used to volunteer at a woolen mill museum, so I have a soft spot for it.


  12. Absolutely BEAUTIFUL! Esther I love the background that you picked to take these pictures .its SO fitting to the outfit that your wearing.


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