September Sew Monthly Challenge – Historicism

I was working hard on a dress for the costuming group’s train day, but Very Understanding Boyfriend found out his friends’ wedding was that weekend! I was happy to change plans, but it did leave me with a half-finished dress and no costuming event for the month. And then I remembered that we had a tea!

The theme for the tea was “pink”. Which is why I wasn’t planning on going. I’m not a pink kind of girl, as it tends to go very wrong on redheads. However, I do like making things. And when I realized this would be a good fit for the “historicism” challenge, I picked up six yards of lovely Civil War cinnamon from the local quilt shop and got to work.

This is the finished dress:



The Challenge:

Material: The pink calico is a quilting cotton. The skirt is sateen from Jo-Ann’s. The accent bits are silk and rayon velvet from Dharma Trading.

Pattern: The underskirt is the go-to Truly Victorian 4 Gore underskirt. The polonaise is draped based on a pattern in Bustle Fashions. The little style details are from Bustle Fashions

Year: 1883-1885

Notions: Covered buttons, twill tape, hook and eye closures, one (non period) snap for the neck, spiral steel boning, lace

How historically accurate is it?: I adapted a pattern from Bustle Fashions, so I’d like to think it’s pretty accurate. Materials and construction techniques are as close as I could figure.

Hours to complete: 25-35.

First worn: 17 September

Total cost: Oh god… fashion fabric, 6 yards at $11; lining 6 yards @ $1.50 (on sale at JoAnns), underskirt 4 yards @ $8 (also on sale); silk and velvet scraps @ $15, covered buttons $7, pink cotton thread $8. The rest of the notions I had in the stash. So… $137.
I did not have much time to get this done. Two weeks. Two weeks, with one weekend taken up by a family trip to my cousin’s wedding shower. I needed something I could get out fast, clean, and without a whole lot of angst. I don’t know why I thought a polonaise would be fast, but at least it came together without any massive problems.

Please note, I was HAULING on this, and didn’t get to take as many photos as I’d have liked!  Construction notes are below the cut.

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August Sew Monthly – Pattern

Between my computer dying and trying to get sewing projects time, I haven’t been timely with any of my writing lately!  This post is horribly delayed.  However, I did make it – my August sewing challenge!


Because this is Texas and bigger is always better, I decided I needed a larger bustle support for my plaid 1880s walking dress. I decided this was the perfect project for August – patterns.  Nobody’s going to see it, so why not have fun with the fabric?

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Fun With Apportioning Rulers – Bodices

I’ve been so busy this month I’ve barely paid this blog any attention at all.  And to make matters worse, my computer died on me.  Ugh.

Anyway, we’re finally clawing our way out of the summer humidity here in Texas, so it’s time to prep for fall and winter costuming events.  In honor of that, and also because I’ve finally got a semi-steady paycheck after over a year of unemployment and contract work, I bought myself a copy of Frances Grimble’s Bustle Fashions 1885-1889.  I’ve heard some good things about this book, and for the number of patterns you get, it’s an excellent price.

Also, I’ve been perusing the National Garment Cutters available online, and wanted to understand the secret of these apportioning rulers. They seem like mysterious, secretive things, but at the same time, they seem like a geometric solution to pattern making. I’m all about geometry in sewing.

I figured these would be some super complicated tool that required in depth, detailed instructions to put together and use, but as it turns out, they’re literally just rulers.  Rulers with different units than a normal ruler.

In other words: ratios.

(Although Grimble has multiple books on the subject, many of the National Garment Cutter books are available online for free, so I do not consider this breaking any kind of copyright.  It’s publicly available, which is another reason why this is so cool!)

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