Posted on

19th Century Underwear Projects – The Purple Civil War Ensemble

This project is actually a couple years past already but it’s still one of my earlier favourites. Now the Civil War Silhouette is not a style I typically work with but this was a special request from a really great friend of mine and I could not deny it. It was my first, and to the date of this post, only civil war style gown I’ve ever made. I have plans to make more of these for her in the future though, because I thought she just looked amazing.

But since the theme of this month is underwear, let’s talk about what it takes to make this shape.

 

I make a lot of our corsets without the front busk. This might be an anachronism on my part, or maybe just laziness, but I guess I just like the smooth, closed front.

The Chemise and the Corset

Have I harped on enough about wearing a chemise under your corset yet? I made this purple one out of some nice 100% cotton I had laying around the studio. As I’ve mentioned before, using 100% natural fibers is SUPER important if you don’t want to feel like you’re wearing a plastic bag under all those layers. Do yourself a favour, wear a fabric that breathes and doesn’t chafe against your body. It’s a simple garment that makes a huge comfort difference. We used the TV 102 Truly Victorian Chemise pattern. It’s a super simple pattern, but if you don’t want to buy a pattern you can totally mock one up if you have any basic drafting skills. These kinds of pieces can be really plain and utilitarian, or you can go all out on the super fancy styles you see in old fashion magazines.

The corset is also a Truly Victorian Pattern (TV110) and it’s not the only pattern I use, but it’s certainly my favourite one so far for it’s simplicity and ease of use. The sizing has a great range, and there’s no gores or gussets to worry about. Perfect starter pattern for a beginner. I wanted to make this one a tiny bit more special, but I didn’t have a lot of time, so I used a fashion layer of teal green silk over some black coutil for the base and freehand embroidered the front of the silk with some cotton embroidery thread that I had laying around. 

Remember: DON’T SKIP THE CORSET! If you’re wearing hoops and skirts like these they will kill your hips to try and wear them without something supporting them. Trust me on this. It’s actually MORE comfortable with the corset than without.

 

 

 

THE HOOPS

These hoops were a very different sort of beast from our usual bustles. In some ways they were a pain to make – managing the big, long bands of metal in a confined space was not fun, but in the end it’s a really cool shape to achieve. We got the hoop steel from Farthingales in Ontario and cut it with bolt cutters. They had some handy hoop connectors too that made assembling them a breeze. The fabric banding along the bottom acts like a barrier to stop you from stepping through the bands as you walk! These hoops really have a fantasic bell swing to them when you move, but you need to be careful when you sit down, otherwise the front might tip upwards and lift your skirts right up!

I know the colours are a bit mismatched – but it’s underwear and the grey grosgrain tape I used was on sale for a great price! Everything else came out of stash. 

Another fun bit about these hoops is how easily they collapse flat when you’re not wearing them, making them easier to store under your bed! Overall these took me about a weekend to make the first time, now that I know how they’re done, I’d say I could finish them in a day.

Admittedly, I should have used a lighter cotton for this. Luckily, the model is strong enough that the weight of the heavy petticoat isn’t a problem.

 

THE PETTICOAT

The Petticoat for this civil war shape is dead simple to make. It’s a drawstring waistband and two loooong bands of fabric gathered along the length to create the big puffy shape seen above. I made a poor choice on the fabric choice with this one. It’s cotton, so it breathes, but I should have used a lighter cotton and gone with starching instead of trying to use the density to fluff out the skirts. It makes for a heavy outfit and for the next one I’ll go with a lighter and prettier cotton and use multiple layers and starch to achieve the body. This one is simple, utilitarian and does the job. Without a petticoat (Or two, or six) you risk a limp and lifeless skirt – or worse – you risk the obvious appearance of the hoop bones making your skirts look lumpy.  
Petticoats breath life and grace into your skirts and I highly recommend that you don’t skip them. 

Once again – breathable fabrics like natural fibers are key here for comfort. Petticoats of any shape being made of stuffier fabrics will help make a sauna under your gown.

 

Ready to Dance!

THE SKIRT AND BODICE

The bodice and skirt are made with more Truly Victorian Patterns. The bodice is TV442 – 1860s Ballgown Bodice and the skirt is TV240 – 1860’s Ball Gown Skirt.

At this point, once you have the structural undergarments done the dress itself is really just icing on the cake. I know some out there try to build the shape with the dress itself by stuffing tulle under things or gathering more and more fabric into their creations to try and mimic the shape of the era without all the layers – but honestly, if you’re looking to get it right you can’t really skip out and everything that goes into it. Without the hoops and the petticoats and the corset chances are the gown is going to be ill fitting, uncomfortable, and limp. 

 

Overall the shape is fairly simple and you can make almost all of this stuff at home if you have some moderate sewing skills and a lot of patience. This was our first attempt at the shape and while we can see now where we made mistakes and where we can improve, it’s still one of my favourite dresses to date and I’m looking forward to making a few more. 

Posted on

Throwback Thursday – Neo-Historical Harley Quinn and Joker

Full disclosure: I Am Not A Cosplayer.

So admittedly, I’m not very good at Cosplay. However this costume set was born out of a last minute necessity for something to wear while judging at a costuming contest so I was trying to make us fit in. They were a fun little rush project to wear for the weekend and we had a good time in them.

And before anyone jumps on me for it: Yes, the eras don’t match. Harley Quinn is obviously Neo-Victorian and the Joker is clearly 16th Century in style. I did not have the time to make the undergarments for a Neo-Elizabethan Harley so we worked with what I had.

Admittedly, and with a great deal of jealousy, the Joker Costume was by far the more quality garment. It got the full royal treatment with purple, orange, and teal silk. 

Yes, at 2am in the morning my studio IS allowed to get messy.

We were kind of channeling the Jack Nicholson joker with our colour choices and even when not used as a Cosplay piece I find the suit quite lovely. Lined with linen and interlined with cotton means the suit is actually fairly comfy. Intentionally, the suit was made in such a way that without the make up and green hair, the suit could easily work for any 16th C style historical outing. If you want to make a similar outfit – we adapted Margo Anderson’s Men’s wardrobe for the doublet and venetian trousers.

The Harley Quin on the otherhand is mostly polyester duchesse satin. Which means by the end of the first day I was cooking in my own sweat. The colours and textures are lovely – but this isn’t an outfit I would want to wear much in the summer. The patterns come from Truly Victorian. I used their early bustle skirt pattern and their polonaise pattern – splitting it up the back and adjusting colours as needed.

Overall it was a quick and dirty sort of fun project- but one that I’m still quite fond of today.
Thanks for reading!

Posted on

Broken Iron Blues – Elizabeth’s Garden Gown Rush Job Part 1

Well, my snazzy new(ish) iron bit the dust tonight. I bought it last year and it was a really nice iron. But a few minutes into using it tonight it went Katput. 🙁 Tonight is not a good night for that to happen, because I’m in rush mode. We need to get a new day gown done for Ashley AND a new pair of trousers made for Andrew before next weekend arrives. Andrew’s current trousers are a bit too snug around the thighs for a weekend of work and Ashley, being new to the model team, only has a ball gown in her wardrobe right now and a trained skirt just isn’t the best idea for a convention. So I’m kind of rushed right now.

She’s getting the “Elizabeth’s Garden Gown” that I designed for a cancelled photobook project. It’s featuring green and white striped cotton in a bustle skirt and a polonaise – something comfortable and ruffly to wear that won’t be nearly so hazardous as her gala gown was.

Unfortunatly – my iron died 2 meters into pressing 15 meters of striped cotton. 🙁 
It looked like my night was over – but behold! I was recently given my great grandmother’s antique iron! Problem solved! I’m back in business until I can pick up a new steam iron tomorrow.
So it takes a little longer to heat up and it doesn’t blow out steam – but in a pinch to press some cotton? It was just what I needed. 

So hopefully tomorrow I can finish prepping the fabric, get it cut, and get Ashley a new outfit done this weekend.

Posted on

THE 19TH CENTURY VICTORIAN UNDERWEAR REFRESH: THE PETTICOATS

 

Now this is where I confess another terrible sin of mine – I didn’t really find the glory of petticoats until recent years. Yes, Yes, I know – I lecture on so much about structure and support garments and yet I used to be a total slacker when it came to things like petticoats.

They just seemed… frivolous. I’d put so much time into the corset, the bustle, the skirts and the accessories and I just felt like – Ugh, can you even tell the difference?

Sloppily, I just wore another thin skirt beneath my first gowns – it was enough to hide the lumps of my plastic tubing cage bustle and I thought that was that. Surely all the ruffles at the hem of my skirt would pick up the slack and make my skirt flow and ripple like I was a graceful swan floating across a lake. Right?

No. That’s not what happened. Not At All.

I confess – I hate making petticoats. I find them tedious with so much gathering and pinning and more gathering. I do it all by hand, because I like the look of hand gathered ruffles much more than the ones I get from my ruffling attachment. But it makes for long days of gathering and pinning – especially when you decide to make six or more at once.

So why do I make so many? Why do I punish myself with this bulk order practice of self-abuse?

Because when they’re done and worn under a gown things get goddamn delightful. 

Ignore the fact that these are made up of no less than three different shades of white cotton. I was using up stash. These things use up a lot of fabric when you’re making them in bulk batches.

I can’t remember when it happened, but there was just this amazing moment when I realized the sheer elevation that occurs when you get the petticoats right. Having been doing them half-assed for years now, I can’t imagine going back to the old ways. No more “good enough” for me, I want the crisp rustling of freshly starched petticoats every time we get dressed now. When you finally do a spin about in a gown properly shaped with a good petticoat, you’ll finally understand what it feels like to be the prettiest of princesses. You can’t properly sweep across the ballroom without them.

Don’t balk. I’m not telling you this because I’m trying to be a costume snob here – I’m telling you this because I want you to feel like the belle of the ball. Trust me, the petticoats are worth the effort.

And don’t make the same mistakes we made!

Don’t skimp on these – my limp little spare polyester skirt hidden inside my gown didn’t cut it. You CAN use your skirt pattern to make your petticoats but it needs more than just that. Add bands of ruffles, starch it, add pleats, and give it LIFE. It’s not just in there to conceal the boning of your support garments. It’s there to fill your gown’s shape. Regardless of what silhouette era you’re making, work with that shape to achieve the “look”. Sure, you can’t see them outside of your dress, but they make the dress look right and amazing!

LAYERS – I’ve reached the point where two petticoats is our minimum and that might get bumped up as we acquire more of them in our wardrobe inventory.  I used to wear just one, if I wore one at all, and you can get away with that, but if you want maximum impact layering is the way to go. The way the dress and the layers sway and rustle is almost magical when you get the right layers together. I’ve read that some might wear up to a dozen of them (though that seems extreme even to me), we tried six on Ashley just to see how the shape and feel would differ between layers and six actually seems extreme to us. Maybe in winter six would be more comfortable because Ashley was instantly over warm when we reached that point, so for now 2-3 per girl is where we aim for.

Use Cotton – I’ve found that petticoats historically were made from cotton, linen, wool, and even silk, but overwhelmingly they were usually made from cotton. Cotton is amazing for petticoats. It’s soft, comfortable, it breathes, and it’s much more washable than many other fibers. It also starches like a dream. Once upon a time we thought we were clever in using a stiff polyester drapery material. It didn’t require starching because it was already stiff, it brushed clean fairly easily and it was dense and heavy enough that we figured we would only need to wear one of them. That worked for us for a while. We’ve still got them in the wardrobe as back ups, but next to the cotton petticoats they can’t compare anymore.  They’re great if you’re just going for a costume look, but if you’re going to wear your Victorian clothes with any frequency – go with layers of cotton instead. Polyesters also don’t breathe nearly as well as cottons do – so you will be very uncomfortable and hot wearing layers of polyester around your legs.

It’s a fact that cats love fresh clean cotton – especially if it’s expensive! Kiko pretty much nested in them the entire time I was working on them.

 

Lighter, Not Heavier – Further to our mistake in using a heavier polyester thinking that it would be beneficial to holding out our skirts – that’s not how it works. Heavier fabrics droop more thanks to gravity, and while the heavier fabrics were stiffer than the light cotton, they were lumpier than they were graceful. Layering them would have been a nightmare. Pick a lighter cotton – not too light because it still needs some body, but my favourite petticoat cotton right now is extra wide cotton sheeting when I can get it. It’s proven very versatile and comfortable so far, but a lot of the time I’m using whatever cheap 100% cotton (or at least a very high cotton count) light cloth I can get ahold of, because petticoats use up a lot of fabric. Muslins, broadcloths, etc. are typically suitable. 

 

An Example of one of our earlier “cheating” petticoats. This dense polyester was nice enough for getting started with, but cotton is a thousand times better. 🙁

 

Starch – You can get away without starching. Layers of petticoats still have a lot of shape and rustle to them without it – but if you really want to treat yourself, take the time to starch your petticoats. They are like a dream to wear. The gowns rustle when you move, skirts flutter when you spin, it’s like your ball gown defies gravity.  None of these pictures have starched petticoats in them because we’re waiting for the weather to warm up outside so we can make an assembly line in the backyard to dip starch our new petticoats all at once. We used spray starch on several petticoats for last year’s gala and even those turned out amazing. Dip starching is the ultimate level of awesome though – we’ll write a big post about that adventure when spring arrives. Starching also has the added perk of keeping your stuff cleaner – once dried and set you can brush off dust and dirt from the fabric much easier, keeping the dresses cleaner longer between washings and restarchings.

So that little lecture aside – we finished SIX petticoats recently (Two each for Three of the girls) and we decided to layer them all up on Ashley at once to see the difference each new layer makes. To most eyes, it doesn’t look all that different from the first petticoat to the sixth, but in reality the density and fullness of all those layers is amazing – but a little too hot to wear on a practical basis.

Layering Petticoats has a HUGE impact!

If you want to see how they look in action you can check out a short clip of Ashley spinning around in them on our YouTube channel here: 

 

So I’m proud to say that I’m a petticoat convert – they might seem needless and cumbersome to some of you, but trust me that they are well worth the extra effort. The petticoat pattern we use most is TV170 – Victorian Petticoats by Truly Victorian. It’s an awesome pattern package that has a pattern for 4 different eras of Victorian silhouette. It fastens at the waist with a drawstring and is brainlessly easy to assemble. I love it!

Thanks for reading!

Posted on

THE 19TH CENTURY VICTORIAN UNDERWEAR REFRESH: THE BUSTLES

The bustle is perhaps one of the most iconic symbols of Victorian fashion after the civil war. Its shape defined not only one era of style in the 19th Century, but it also had a revival after it had initially fallen out of fashion for the natural form shape. While all the fashion movements of the 19th Century had their own sense of elegance and beauty, there is no denying the popularity of the bustle even today with neo-victorianists, steampunks, and re-enactors alike.
You can do a quick search on Pinterest and find all sorts of tutorials and quick and dirty instructions on how to put together a bustle for your ensemble. However, not all of these are going to work if you’re going for any degree of historical likeness. In my experience, a lot of these “bustles” are modern alt fashion interpretations of bustles – which is fine if you’re going for a steampunk or burlesque look, but if you’re looking for functionality and some real hustle in your bustle – you’re going to need to go a little bit further then just gathering some fancy brocade onto a waistband and calling it a day.

The nice thing about underwear, is that if no one is going to see it – it doesn’t have to match.

 

The bustle is a support garment that goes under the gown to fill out the skirts and petticoats and help the wearer maintain the specific shape to their ensemble. They weren’t meant to be worn on the outside as fashion accessories and while there are many extant examples of fancy coloured fabrics being used to make bustles, there’s many more made of simple, plain, economical fabrics as well. You don’t need to spend a wad of cash on this, my recommendation for picking a nice bustle fabric is to pick something not too heavy, not too light, not too stiff, but with a nice, even, secure weave to the fabric to make sure it won’t stretch or tear under the weight of its work. 
The key part of the bustle’s importance is that it’s a SUPPORT garment, and you have to approach it with that idea in mind when you take on historical costuming. Achieving the right silhouette is mostly dependent on what kind of support garments you’re wearing because they create the shape for you – Victorian women did NOT have that much booty after all. These structural garments create the shape of your outfit. The bustle itself had loads of different designs and forms depending on the decade in which they were worn. In fact, it had several transformations throughout the Victorian era: some had full hoops when it transitioned away from the bell shape of the civil war era, some had metal boning, some were made from padded rolls, and others were made with stiffened fabric. There’s a LOT to choose from and even some really wacky inventions that didn’t really make it to mass market, but that’s a post for another day.

 

If you think you need more ruffles on your bustle, you're right.

For our purposes, we often use the Lobster Tail Bustle style. I love these because they are comfortable, lightweight, collapsible, and very easy to sit in. They give a really nice shape and they help keep the layers of petticoats and skirts off of our legs, creating a nice little “air tent” around our lower body to keep your legs cool and unobstructed by loose fabric.
These are usually worn over the corset and chemise but under the petticoats. And yes, the corset is just as necessary for the outfit as the bustle is. The corset is another vital support garment – it not only gives you the shape of the era, it also helps your body support the clothes. You do NOT want skirt bands and layers of fabric digging into your waist and hips without that extra support. Corsets might sound uncomfortable to some of you, but wearing these gowns without one is much, MUCH worse.

 

We added LOTS of Ruffle to this Bustle.

In this most recent little underwear refresh, I’ve opted to make two new bustles to replace a couple of the more grungy old ones we started out with. I called these “super bustles” because I’ve take our usual favourite bustle pattern (TV163 – 1887 Imperial Tournure in the “regular” size) and upgraded the froof a bit by adding some big extra ruffles down the back for extra body and shaping. These will be worn most often with late bustle period gowns so I wanted some serious structure in the back of it. Adding the extra ruffles was not hard. I used the same pattern piece used to make the bottom ruffle and just added them onto the back piece of the pattern once I was done applying the bias tape channels that hold in the boning.

 

Marking the channels on the bustle back. I’ll use Bias tape stitched down over these lines to create the slots for the boning to go into.

 

And this pattern is very easy to make. It’s only a few pieces to put together, the boning channels are marked out for you, and it’s fairly straightforward. The hardest part might be the actual boning itself. You can order metal boning cut and tipped to size from Farthingales Corset supply (they’re Canadian too!). Personally we make so much stuff that I buy lengths and spools of the boning materials myself and cut and tip them in the studio as needed. But if you’re only making one of these, it might be better for you to just buy a pre-cut kit.

Bustles with boning in them! This is an old picture, I think this one used the plastic tubing instead of metal boning.

I can finish one of these in less than a day typically, if you’re new to this you might get it done in a weekend. I like to use a durable, medium weight fabric to make these up. Remember: you want something that isn’t too heavy, but also something that won’t strain or stretch under pressure.

The Second Super Bustle. This time on a real live person!

 

Rough And Dirty Materials Tip:

I can already hear the costume mavens groaning to hear me say this: Previously, when we were first starting out and we didn’t have access to our materials of choice we used plastic tubing from Home Depot instead of metal boning. This was… adequate for getting us started as it was cheap and decent enough to pass for quality, but since we’ve graduated to using the steel bands we are MUCH happier with the results. So in a pinch, you can make substitutions, but I’m still very much inclined to stick with the metal hoop boning that we use now.

Plastic Tubing we got from Home Depot. This works in a pinch for bustle boning, but it’s not ideal. But if you’re just starting out, or just want a cheap costume version, this can work.

 

Do you have any tips on bustles? Have you achieved some serious hustle in your bustle? Don’t be afraid to drop us your comments here or on our Facebook Page to let us know what you’ve made!

 

Posted on

THE 19TH CENTURY VICTORIAN UNDERWEAR REFRESH: THE CHEMISES

I have an admission to make: this spring I spent several weeks slaving over a mass production of -just- underwear.

Those couple of months were nothing but a blur of cottons, laces, and pleats as I plowed through some seriously monotonous tasking while I rebooted a whole bunch of our team wardrobe pieces with some new underlayers. Some of them were badly needed, some of them are for new projects, but all of them were underwear. That’s right, I spent nearly 3 months working on the stuff you will never see that goes UNDER the gowns.

Because that’s the important stuff.

I am tired of this and itching to get back to making big froofy gowns for photoshoots, but this extra effort was long overdue and necessary. Support and structure beneath your fashionable layers are what sets your outfit apart in degrees of awesomeness. I try not to skimp on the hidden layers beneath a gown because without that unseen stuff a dress will look like a flop. Once upon a time I wasn’t so finicky about it, but I’ve learned from my past mistakes.
Sometimes, I feel like I spend more time working on the underwear of an ensemble than I might spend on the finished product, and personally I feel like it is worth the effort.

And that’s why I’ve been working so much these last couple seasons on upgrading the underlayers for my team. As we progress with our projects and events, I try to keep working to improve our wardrobe collection as we go. So far in 2017 I’ve completed a whopping FOURTEEN Cotton Chemises, SIX Petticoats, and TWO new Bustles as a start to our underwear overhaul.

And as part of my crusade to make sure everyone wears fancy underwear with their costumes, I’ll start by talking about the chemises.

 

It was winter outside, but it’s hard to take a picture of so many chemises at once indoors.

THE CHEMISES

These have been on my to-do list for ages but have been put off for far too long. One thing I’ve learned from experience and that I tend to frequently harp upon is DON’T WEAR YOUR CORSET AGAINST YOUR SKIN. I know it’s a common thing to just wear a corset as a top nowadays but it’s certainly not something I condone with my team. Wear something between your skin and your corset.

Firstly, you’ll be more comfortable. Coutil can rub and irritate the skin for some of us, causing chaffing or rashes or just general discomfort. Putting a barrier between you and the coutil/canvas can help prevent that. Try to go for natural fibers like cotton or linen because those will breathe, whick away sweat, and generally feel more comfortable. I don’t recommend silk because I find it has insulating properties that I don’t want beneath my corset and they aren’t as washable. Polyesters tend to get sticky or uncomfortable because they don’t breathe as well.  This is the exact reason why I went with cotton and high percentage cotton blends to make all of these. I want the girls on my team to look pretty, but I also want them to be comfortable and happy at the same time.

Previously, and you can see this in lots of our dressing pictures, we used camisoles and fitted tank tops as our skin layers, and that worked okay for us, but it was time to treat the girls to something special.

 

Don’t have a chemise handy? A modern camisole isn’t a perfect substitution, but it will work in a pinch!

And that’s the next reason for the chemises, the feeling of putting on all the layers has an almost emotional quality to it. While these chemises offer very little to the shaping of the final gown product, they do often offer the wearers a feeling of transformation as they experience the transition from modern clothing to a layered historical outfit. It’s something that really sets apart the act of wearing historical clothing and being transported to the 19th Century vs simply wearing a Halloween costume. In a way, we go through the extra effort of these additional layers to further the experience of living a bit of history. For us, it’s not just about looking fancy for tea, we want to feel fancy and elegant too – and the chemise is the first step in a ritual of dress that transforms you into the historical impression that you’re trying to convey.

 

Part of the magic of Neo-Victorianism is playing dress up. It helps when you’re dressing up in a swanky hotel.

And thirdly, the chemises help keep the corsets and other layers clean. The chemise through its many forms in history has served a VERY important purpose in clothing through the ages: CLEANLINESS. The chemises is not just a fancy nightgown, it’s your first line of defence against getting your clothes icky. For a lot of historical clothing, especially the more costly and fancy pieces, laundering was hard, or even impossible. Even today a lot of our gowns are unwashable or strictly dry clean only. Throwing expensive silk with beading into the washing machine would make me a very unhappy camper. Many fancy top layers in historical costume were simply not meant to be washed the way we wash our clothes now, but that doesn’t mean that people went around looking/smelling filthy all the time either.

Pretty and Functional

 

Chemises acted as a barrier between your body and your more precious layers of clothing. Even if you bathe every day and think that you’re a clean person, your body is still shedding skin, sweat, and oils that can imbed in your clothes and begin to stink/stain/soil them. Since you often can’t throw your corset or over layers into the washing machine you should strive to protect them from needless cleaning.

 

It’s a very simple piece to add to your 19th Century Wardrobe and it has an instant impact on your comfort and form

 

These cotton chemises that I made are perfect for that. Being made out of cotton, I can throw these guys into the wash after every wearing as needed in order to get rid of that body crud without worrying so much about the outer layers.

And that’s also why I made FOURTEEN of them at once. I don’t have fourteen different people wearing these, I made multiples for each of the girls on our team so they have at least one to wear and one to swap out. We plan on starting traveling more for costumed adventures to historical locations and in the absence of laundry facilities I wanted to make sure that the girls wouldn’t feel stuck wearing sweaty or icky underlayers after a day in the hot summer sun. They also work wonderfully as nightgowns as well.

HOW TO MAKE YOUR OWN

I have to be honest, the only reason this project took me so long to finish is because I decided to make fourteen of them at once. .  I don’t recommend that approach, it got boring and tedious very quickly, but now that they’re done I’m hoping I won’t have to make any more for a good long time. Aside from that, these are AMAZINGLY SIMPLE TO MAKE. If you’re looking for a starter project to dip your toe into 19th Century costuming, this would be a good one. I could have made them fancier and spent more time on adding instertion lace and using more delicate fabrics, but honestly these ones are purposefully utilitarian, because I imagine this summer they’re going to get a lot of wear and washing, so we wanted something pretty and comfortable – but still tough enough for our travels.

 

 

First up: I used Truly Victorian’s Chemise pattern: TV102 – Chemise and Drawers. The pattern itself comes with a chemise taken from an authentic pattern from 1885 and it’s wonderfully simplistic in its design and puts together so easily. The ribbon drawstring collars make it wonderfully adjustable at the necklines, the optional button closures at the shoulders make it great for wearing with off the shoulder gowns, and it’s really, REALLY cute when completed.

It requires cotton or linen, lace for trimming and insertion lace to make the drawstring neckline. You could finish one of these in a day easily.

 I haven’t made the drawers pattern up yet, but I’ve heard lots of good things about it too.

I hope you found this helpful in improving your historical costume plans. I’ll be following up with two more articles on the petticoats and bustles in the near future.

Thanks for reading!