A Black & Plaid 1890s Winter Dress

November 04, 2016

This originally started as a totally different project. I really wanted to wear 1890s to the Pumpkins & Plaid picnic (which I never actually made it to), and I had planned to wear my gold skirt with a new shirtwaist and jacket. I had pulled a fabulous gold and red plaid from The Stash, made up a pattern for the jacket...

...and completely destroyed my fabric. I just could not match the plaid, no matter what I did! Every piece turned out slightly off, and before I knew it, I had mangled my entire length of fabric. I was devastated.

So, I pulled out the only other length of plaid I had that would work, which was the black and grey plaid that I had used to make a few things for our trip to New Orleans last year. I wasn't super thrilled with it, but I was determined to make the best of it.








I started by cutting out a simple circle skirt. At this point, I was still thinking that I'd make a skirt, a shirtwaist, and maybe a plain black jacket to go with it.



I then realized that I didn't have any black taffeta left in my Stash! I always have taffeta in my Stash, so that was a bit of a shocker. So, my plans changed yet again, and I searched through Pinterest for inspiration. That's when I found this.



I love the look of that dress, and even though I would have been happier with a purple plaid, I decided to go for it. I started by draping a pattern for the underbodice.


I then cut out the pattern in my fashion fabric, using what little black taffeta I had left in the Stash to create my center front panel.


I then draped the pattern for the front overlap panel and yoke over the underbodice.


I then cut the overlap panel from my fashion fabric, and the yoke out of a black cotton velvet that I had rediscovered in the Stash. (The scrap pinned to the waist is just to see how it would look as a waistband.)



Even though the bodice wasn't entirely finished, I was tired of messing with it so I moved on to the sleeves. The entire reason that I wanted to do 1890s was because of those amazing, absurd, wonderful sleeves! I took out my copy of 59 Authentic Turn-of-the-Century Fashion Patterns and found a sleeve pattern in there I liked.



Because the diagrams in the book are so clear and thorough, I was able to transfer the sleeve pattern directly onto my mockup fabric by following the measurement.s


I cut out the mockup and tried it on. It fit for the most part, but it was a good 4 inches too short! That's crazy considering that it was taken directly from the original measurements, but it was an easy enough problem to fix. Once I had the mockup adjusted, I used it to cut out my sleeves from the same black velvet as the bodice yoke.


The sleeves are created in two pieces - the outer sleeve, made of the fashion fabric, and a narrower inner sleeve lining. This creates a negative space between the layers that can be stuffed with tulle or batting so that the sleeve keeps its gigantic poofy shape. I ended up using a LOT of tulle to stuff my sleeves, and they ended up even bigger than in the photo above.

Once I had finished the sleeves, I went back and finished up the bodice interior. I added the boning to the lining and finished off the waist with a bit of tape.


The seams were left as they were. A lot of bodices from the period look like this, and I suspect it's so that they could be taken in and let out easily if the wearer changed sizes. You wouldn't have to futz with taking out and replacing the lining if you were altering the size.

Once the bodice was finished, I added the collar and the waistband, and the dress was finished!


I had planned to wear it to the picnic, but we ended up missing the event. I did manage to convince M to take some pictures of me at a nearby park, though!

 

I was going to do a writeup for the little red hat I made to go along with the outfit, but I realized that I stopped taking pictures about halfway through making it. I'll have to be more diligent about my picture taking in the future!

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