lunedì 3 novembre 2014

Civil War day dress (1850s-1860s)

Hello there! Today it's a cloudy and wet day in Italy and I've enough spare time to write a new entry. 
As some of you may know I'm totally in love with the Southern Belle look (known as "antebellum fashion" as well) and I already wrote an entry about this period last year (italian only http://daniellefiore.blogspot.it/2013/06/il-look-da-southern-belle.html); the public knows this look thanks to "Gone with the Wind" mainly and recent movies as "Return to Cold Mountain" and I find it totally fascinating and feminine. After watching "Gone with the Wind" again I felt advanced enough to sew a civil war costume by my own. I did some research on the web about fabrics and construction methods and I immediately faced it would have been an expensive project. The total amount of fabric is really huge and you need multiple layers of clothing to be the most accurate possible. I already had a corset and a chemise but I needed a 6 hoop petticoat to be worn underneath so I purchased it. 




There are many patterns available to sew this costume and I found a good offer for Butterick 5831; this dress has a loose fitting and a simple design which looks like a day dress, surely it's not a ball gown. I purchased this pattern since it contained some tasks I needed to achieve: buttonholes, french seam and button cuffs and I know it's not so accurate. The sleeves look more from 1840's and I don't know why they designed this loose bodice (victorian women wanted a thin waist, this one would have been so unfashionable!) but it looks good. I bought it because I needed a standard model to sew and study on, especially for the bodice. The pattern instructions ask for inner boning and I avoided this step since I' always wear a corset underneath; the skirt has to be pleated with cartridge pleating (which I already met in my first Tudor project) and this step took me a while to be completed. I had to sew darts on front and back bodice to reduce the looseness, I used a size 10 and...it was sadly too big, so I've been forced to reduce it a little. I choose this beautiful light green fabric in 100% cotton. 
I really had fun in sewing buttonholes, it was my first approach with them and I can say I'm pretty satisfied.




I sewn a strip of white crochet lace on button cuffs for a more feminine look (can I say I LOVE how the shoulders came out thanks to french seam?). I clean-finished the neckline with some emerald satin bias tape. 
After pleating the skirt I attached it to the bodice by hand with a backstitch but - gosh! - it's really huge and heavy. The pattern includes a train on the back of the dress but I don't think it's so much period accurate so it's up to you to sew it or not. As final touch I purchased a ivory taffetta ribbon. 
Look at my hair! I found a nice tutorial by Janet Stephens on YouTube and I did this accurate hairstyle with the help of my boyfriend: soooo lovely! 



The sewing process took me 10 days more or less and so I could finish it on time for a shooting in a neo-romantic villa! After a couple of days, I could wear it for the first time... Ta-dah! (Did you notice I dyed my hair dark in the meanwhile hehe?). Sorry for the messy room and the lack of ironing and hemming the gown.




The dress needs to be ironed and hemmed again but it's simply stunning and I think it's a good result to be a beginner. Sorry for the lack of underpinnings, I forgot to put the petticoat on the dressform! 

These are some shots taken during the shooting. All shots are by Mario Bosio:







And you? Have you ever sewn a victorian/civil war costume? Show me your works and I'll be glad to write an entry dedicated to you!


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